COLO - The first quarter was a matchup of the top two teams in the Iowa Star Conference's South Division. In the second quarter, the Royals showed why they have a big lead in the standings on the second-place team. The Colo-NESCO girls' basketball team went on a 16-point run against GMG Tuesday night, turning a three-point lead into a 19-point edge. The Royals maintained a double-digit margin the rest of the way, claiming a 56-41 win against the Wolverines. Colo-NESCO won the first meeting with GMG, 62-43 in Garwin on Nov. 29. The victory gives the Royals (15-2, 14-1) this season's Iowa Star South crown, their fifth-straight conference title. "It shows their efforts in the offseason payoff in the in-season," said Royal coach Wayne Cafferty of another conference title for the trophy case. "They play a lot of basketball, and they're always working on their games. Getting the fifth means a lot to all of us. An accomplishment they should all be proud of." Faith Vincent led all scorers with 19 points and had five steals and two blocks. Grace Stalzer pulled down 17 rebounds for Colo-NESCO, while stealing the ball seven times. Kassie Robinson added 10 points and hauled in six boards. Blaire Sonderleiter and McKensie Vaske co-led GMG (9-7, 9-4 Iowa Star South) with 11 points each. Katie Airey opened the second quarter with a field goal to pull the Wolverines within 12-9 before the Royals went on their run. Stalzer converted an and-one after making a layup. Molly Barten and Emma Sarver followed up with buckets of their own. Zoe Duncan had a breakaway for GMG, but Vincent caught up to her, blocking her shot and denying the score. Vincent then drained a 3-pointer on the other end to push the run to 10-0. Kassie Robinson then scored Colo-NESCO's next six points to open the lead to 28-9 before Duncan stopped the bleeding. "Our defense just wears on them," Cafferty said. "They got flustered there, and we got a few quick turnovers. That's what we try to do every night. Keep after people, and hopefully we'll get that run." The Royals not only maintained the lead they had built, but extended it to as many as 20 points two different times in the third quarter. The Wolverines closed out the third on an 8-2 run to trim the lead to 12 heading into the final stanza. Kelsey Vaverka, Josie Claassen and Vaske scored for GMG as part of the run. "We knew (the Royals) were going to go on a run, they always do," said GMG coach Justin Hornberg. "I told (the Wolverines) afterwards, that was pretty much the difference in the game. … Compared to last game, we did a much better job of handling their pressure. We've been working on it for a long time. I thought we'd be ready for it. You're never going to completely get rid of turnovers against Colo, you're just not going to. They just keep coming." GMG pulled within 11 early in the fourth, but never got any closer. Chelsea Henze and Mackenna Ruffcorn made 3-pointers for the Royals to keep GMG at bay. Mable Dieleman drained a pair of treys to try to get GMG back into, but to no avail. For GMG, the goal now becomes securing second place in the Iowa Star South, which won't be easy with Meskwaki chasing the Wolverines down in the standings. GMG travels to Waterloo Christian for a conference game tonight, while Colo-NESCO hosts North Tama in another conference game. "Tonight was a must have for us if we were going to catch and tie the Royals," Hornberg said. "That didn't happen. Now the big thing is for second place because Meskwaki is not going anywhere."
Colo-NESCO 56, GMG 41 At Colo GMG (9-7, 9-4) - Blaire Sonderleiter 4 3-7 11, Mable Dieleman 2 0-0 6, Katie Airey 2 0-0 4, McKensie Vaske 3 5-6 11, Zoe Duncan 1 0-0 2, Josie Claassen 2 0-1 4, Kelsey Vaverka 1 1-3 3. TOTALS 13 9-17 41. COLO-NESCO (15-2, 14-1) - Faith Vincent 6 4-4 19, Lauryn Hill 1 0-0 2, Grace Stalzer 2 2-7 6, Mackenna Ruffcorn 1 0-0 3, Kassie Robinson 4 2-2 10, Chelsea Henze 1 3-6 6, Rachel Vincent 0 2-2 2, Delaney McGill 1 0-0 2, Emma Sarver 1 0-0 2, Molly Barten 2 0-0 4. TOTALS 19 13-21 56. GMG 7 5 15 14 - 41 C-N 12 16 11 17 - 56 3-Point Goals-GMG 2 (Dieleman 2); C-N 5 (Vincent 3, Ruffcorn, Henze).