LE GRAND - With leading scorer Taylor Fricke sidelined for the rest of the season with an ACL injury, the Trojans were in search of a scoring punch.
Burying three treys and 11 points in the first quarter, Ashley Allen quickly rose to the challenge.
The sophomore poured in a game-high 23 points - including five treys - as an inspired East Marshall girls basketball team cruised to a 54-19 victory over BCLUW highlighting the Coaches vs Cancer NICL West game Tuesday.
T-R PHOTO BY TYLER STRAND
East Marshall’s Meriel Leavy (44) draws a foul on BCLUW’s Olivia Callaway (41) in second quarter action at Le Grand Tuesday. The Mustangs jumped out to a 23-5 lead in the first quarter and cruised to a 54-19 victory.
"Ashley was really on tonight. I needed someone to step up and she really came up big," said East Marshall coach Darrin Nuese.
Honoring their former head coach Rob Drake, who was diagnosed with lung cancer in November, the Trojans raced to a 23-5 advantage after one quarter.
"Our full-court press really got to them and allowed us to get some easy buckets," said Nuese.
"I challenged our girls with a bigger crowd and playing for Coach Drake to come out strong and step up. Tonight they did that."
None more so than Allen.
Hitting a pair of 3-pointers in the opening 90 seconds, Allen added one more for good measure to stretch the Mustangs lead to 18-3 late in the first period. Allen was in attack mode again in the third stretching East Marshall's 27-point halftime lead to 34 with back-to-back 3s late in the frame.
"We had trouble finding (Allen). She knocked down those shots and that got them off and running," said BCLUW coach Jess VanderWeerdt.
"We tried switching defenses but then they were able to get some points with girls cutting to the basket. Everything we did they did an outstanding job of answering."
A bucket inside from Kristen Amendt gave the Mustangs (2-8, 1-5) their largest lead at 49-11 early in the fourth. Amendt finished with 10 points, scoring eight during East Marshall's flurry in the first.
The Comets also were without their top scoring threat, Reeba Box, who separated her shoulder against West Marshall Dec. 11 and will not return this season. Though even with Box, it may not have been enough to weather the Mustangs' relentless press.
"They did a good job of putting ball pressure on us and forcing us into bad decisions," said VanderWeerdt.
Freshman Olivia Callaway led the Comets with six points, while Mallory Vawter had five.
The Mustangs host Dike New-Hartford Thursday and return from winter break to entertain Gladbrook-Reinbeck Jan. 4. The Comets get back to the court against Class 1A No. 7 ranked Grundy Center on the road Jan. 4.
Former East Marshall girls basketball coach Rob Drake, who was diagnosed with lung cancer in November forcing him to step down before the season, addressed the crowd between varsity games. Drake, a Marshalltown resident, served as a teacher and coach at East Marshall for five years ... The game was recognized as part of the Coaches vs Cancer program, a nationwide collaboration between the American Cancer Society and the National Association of Basketball Coaches (NABC) that empowers basketball coaches, their teams and local communities to make a difference in the fight against cancer, per the Coaches vs Cancer website ... Special T-shirts were worn and a free will donation chili supper was served with proceeds benefiting the American Cancer Society ... A "Dash for Cash" was completed after the first quarter of each varsity game where 47 seconds was put on the clock to see how much money could be raised in that time ... The event also supported East Marshall teacher's aide, Mrs. Bingham, and a BCLUW student Ray Callaway, who also have been diagnosed with cancer.