Cooley catches fire, G-R runs over Mustangs
For most of the first quarter last Friday night (Jan. 6), Gladbrook-Reinbeck girls’ basketball senior Megan Cooley wasn’t making waves. Scoreless and sitting on the bench for half of the first frame, she was watching as East Marshall held on to a slim lead despite being shorthanded and undersized.
But when she re-entered the game late in the first, she turned the game on its head.
Scoring 10 straight points and 13 total in the first half, Cooley ignited an 18-3 run to end the first half and put the Rebels on course for a comfortable 58-28 win.
G-R’s head coach, Amber Gerringer, said Cooley’s experience and size inside changed the game.
“She’s been playing really well,” Gerringer said. “We knew going in that that’s where our advantage was. I think it was really good for our guards to make the adjustments to the defense they were playing in order to find [Cooley].
With a length advantage inside thanks to Cooley and Kennedy Brant, the Rebels were able to control rebounds and dominate the paint once they got going. Cooley finished with 28 points — as many as East Marshall combined — and the attention on her in the post helped open up shots for guards Emma McClintock and Elly Sieh. Sieh was G-R’s second-leading scorer with 10 points.
Having McClintock return for her senior year of play has helped the Rebels run more three-guard lineups and create better spacing on offense while being able to match up better on the defensive end as well.
Cooley said she’s been thrilled to have her senior teammate back on the court.
“I’m so glad Emma decided to go out,” Cooley said. “I was on her all year, I was like, ‘You need to go out, your shot is so good.'”
In the second half, Cooley and G-R jumped out to another run, this time a 13-0 run to push the lead to 41-14 halfway through the third. The Rebels did a good job not giving Mustangs star Morgan Neuroth clean looks offensively (17 points).
Despite the difficulties offensively, head coach Chad Hungerford said the Mustangs need to take open shots when they come.
“We passed up multiple wide open shots tonight,” Hungerford said. “I keep telling them, ‘You can’t do that. That’s the whole point of the offense is to get a good look.’ Once we get a good look, we need to take it, because the odds are if we don’t we’ll turn it over before we get another one.”
The fourth quarter came and went with the bench emptying for G-R as a bounce-back win was secured.