The West Liberty High School girls basketball team came into the season with high expectations after starting off their 2019-29 campaign with nine straight wins and eventually just missing a role in the state finals. Ranked second this season in the IGHSAU Class 3A, the Comets are looking to build upon a historic season from just a year ago that set a school record 19 wins.
Facing some tough competition, a late start to the season caused by a community COVID-19 outbreak that closed schools for three weeks and compounded by a short week of practice before their first contest, led to tough losses at the hands of the Bellevue Comets and North Scott Lady Lancers before West Liberty was able to rebound against the Durant Wildcats Monday night for their first win.
The Comets kicked off the season against hosting Bellevue on a snowy Friday night. Bellevue, who had given the Comets a tough game a year ago losing by just three, 43-40, found themselves undefeated at 4-0 on the season before West Liberty would even step onto the hardwood and the hosts looked at the opportunity to get a marquee win.
Bellevue didn’t waste any time, rolling out to an opening period lead,12-9, but the Comets came back with a 10-5 second period to capture a slim lead before heading into the locker room, 19-17. The Comets extended their lead in the third period to four with a 13-11 showing before Bellevue came back to tie the score with an 11-7 fourth quarter, forcing the game into overtime. The hosts then outscored West Liberty 11-7 in the extra minutes to capture the victory and gave West Liberty their first loss of the season, 50-46.
Sophomore Finley Hall led scoring for the Comets, totaling 17 points on six of 16 shooting along with hitting four three pointers and her only free throw. Junior Macy Daufeldt, the 6-0 center for the Comets, added 10 points along with nine rebounds and a pair of steals, including hitting six of eight free throws in the losing effort. Sammi Goodale, a freshman, also hit six points in the game, hitting three of her seven shots. Janey Gingerich had five rebounds while Averi Goodale added four and also had a block in the game. Sailor Hall led the Comets with five assists while her sister Finley had four assists.
West Liberty got off 20 more shots than the hosts, hitting just 16 of 56 for 27 percent while hitting just six of 23 three point attempts. The Comets did connect on 8 of 11 free throws in the game, but had 21 turnovers and 17 fouls.
North Scott loss
Less than 24 hours later, the Comets were back on their home court playing one of the toughest challenges they would face this year – Class 4A #6 North Scott of Eldridge.
Only the second appearance of the season for the teams, both were looking for statement wins.
The Comets lead 11-6 after the first period after starting the game on a 7-0 run. The Lady Lancers would outscore the Comets 23-12 in the second quarter, showing an offensive dominance that lead to a 29-23 halftime advantage.
The visitors controlled the the rest of the game, outscoring the hosts 18-12 in the third period and 11-9 in the finale to take the 14 point win, 58-44.
Sisters Finley and Sailor Hall put on a show, combining for half the Comets points scoring 23 points to share game honors, putting up 14 and 13 respectively. Finley hit all six of her free throws and canned four of her 12 field goals while Sailor was four of 11 from the field and hit four of six free throws as well as one of two three point shots. Daufeldt added eight points, four coming from the line, and played clean up on the glass again for the Comets, pulling down seven rebounds. Averi Goodale also had two steals in the game and Finley hall led the assists category with three.
Although West Liberty shot 36.8 percent from the field on 14 of 38 field goals, the Comets hit just one three point shot in 13 tries. The Comets also connected on 15 free throws and out-rebounded the Lady Lancers 22-21, but lost in the turnover battle, 16-10.
Finally, a win
The Comets captured their first win of the season Monday night over hosting Durant winning in a big way, 79-46. The Hall sisters lit up the scoreboard for the Comets as Sailor scored 22 and Finley 21 in the winning effort to close out the opening week.
Other statistics on the game were not available at press time. Durant moved to 1-5 on the season.
The Comets continue River Valley Conference play this week, getting in some practice time before playing host Anamosa on Friday at 6 p.m., followed by hosting Mid-Prairie on Monday then going to Cascade – the team that ended their win streak last year – Tuesday to close out their week before the Holidays. All home games can be viewed on the West Liberty School District YouTube channel.