GOOSE LAKE - He’s seen it in practice over and over again during much of the past few weeks.
What Anamosa girls basketball coach Doug Arnold wants to see now is his talented team to practice principals and use them on the court in actual games.
Tuesday, Dec. 10, in Goose Lake, Arnold finally saw the Raider girls put all the pieces together and pick up not only their first win of the 2019-20 campaign, but also handed their coach his first career Anamosa girls basketball triumph.
“I can see this group getting a little better each and every game and after each and every practice,” said Arnold, as Anamosa held off host Northeast taking a 54-47 River Valley Conference triumph.
“Athletically, we can compete with anyone. That I have no doubts about. We just need to learn to become better basketball players, and I think the girls are doing that, and they showed that with the way they were able to hang on and beat Northeast on the road.”
Anamosa (1-6, 1-5) actually got off to a slow start in the game trailing 6-2 early on before things began to click.
Maddy Heims, Maggie McQuillen, Ava Claussen-Tubbs, Cecilia Venenga and Joslin Banowetz got the Raider offense ignited after the slow start as the team went on an 11-3 run to edge the first frame with a 13-9 lead.
They wouldn’t lose it the rest of the night, either.
Though at times it looked as though it wasn’t going to be easy.
“Anytime Northeast made a run at us the girls responded,” Arnold said. “It was great to watch. They just refused to give up the lead. To do that being a young team and on the road is pretty impressive, but the girls played like they had been through it a thousand times before.”
The game stayed tight through the second stanza with Anamosa leading 25-19 at the half before the Raiders came out of the break going on a 5-0 third quarter spurt to stretch their advantage to double-digits.”
“We were up 30-19 early in the third quarter and playing really well, then all of a sudden Northeast made another run at us,” said Arnold, as the Rebels closed to within four points at 30-26 before the Anamosa girls answered back once again.
“The girls didn’t panic and just kept doing what they were doing and we gradually got our lead back.”
Anamosa ended the third quarter going on a 9-2 run that had the visitors leading 39-28 with just one quarter remaining to be played.
This time, the Raiders wouldn’t allow the hosts another spurt.
“I was so impressed with how everyone handled themselves in this game,” Arnold said. “The pieces all came together for us and we got a win. It feels good to get that first one, now I hope we can reel of a whole lot more.”
McQuillen powered the Anamosa offense scoring 16 points while Banowetz added 13 more. Heims gave the Raiders three in double-figures scoring 13 points.
“If we would have been able to make our free throws, we could have opened this game up even more,” said Arnold, as his team was 14-of-30 from the charity stripe in the game.
“We were able to get away with it this time, but in closer games that’s going to come back to haunt us. We’ll get that cleaned up.”
The Raider road show continued at Durant Friday, Dec. 13, and after falling into a 14-point hold entering the fourth quarter, almost battled all the way back.
“We were in some pretty serious foul trouble so we were counting on some girls coming off the bench to help us out, and they did,” said Arnold, as his team was handed a 42-35 loss. “I was so proud of the way those girls stepped up right when we needed them to. I just wish we could have completed the comeback.”
Anamosa trailed the Wildcats just 17-13 at the half, but after the hosts went on a 14-4 first quarter run, it appeared Durant was well on their way to a blowout win.
The Raider girls wouldn’t allow it to happen.
Anamosa answered back in the final frame going on an 18-11 spurt, scoring more points in the stretch than they had for the first three quarters combined.
“From the back half of the second quarter and into the third we really struggled on offense,” Arnold said. “Then we started switching offense for defense on the court and it was working and got back into it. If we could have had just a few more shots to fall there at the end I think we could have come all the way back and won it.”
The long road stretch continued at Beckman Saturday, Dec. 14, where a red-hot start fizzled late in what ended as a heartbreaking 55-41 double-overtime Anamosa defeat.
“We got after it right away and jumped to a nice lead,” said Arnold, as the Raiders exploded out of the gate leading 16-4 after one fast frame.
“The kids are starting to believe in what we’re doing here and I also think Beckman was a little surprised by our athleticism. That combination got us off to a great start.”
But the Blazers began gradually working their way back into the game trailing 21-12 at the half and 29-23 entering the final frame.
The hosts used a 13-7 fourth quarter run to tie the score and force overtime, an extra frame it appeared Anamosa was going to win.
“We made a mistake late in the first overtime that allowed Beckman to force a second overtime, and then things started to get away from us,” said Arnold, as the Blazers went on a huge 15-1 run during the final four-minute stretch to pull away.
“To Beckman’s credit, they made the clutch free throws down the stretch and we didn’t, but we’ll learn from a game like this. It hurts now, but we’ll be the better team for experiencing this and the next time we get into one of these types of game, we’ll make those free throws and close games like this out.”
Heims led the Anamosa offense scoring 12 points while Grace Lubben, who was clutch for the Raiders in the fourth quarter, added a career-high 11 points.