MASON CITY | The Mason City girls basketball team didn’t get off to the start it wanted on Tuesday.
However, the fourth-ranked Mohawks scored 14 points a stretch of 2 minutes, 37 seconds late in the first quarter and led Southeast Polk 20-11 with 15 seconds to play in the period.
But Southeast Polk (3-2) turned the tables, using 6-0 runs late in the middle two quarters and another 6-0 run to start the fourth quarter as the Rams knocked off the Mohawks (3-1) 66-58.
“The end of the first half was the key,” Mason City coach Curt Klaahsen said. “Makenzie (Meyer) picked up her third foul with about two minutes left and we started getting sloppy with the ball. That led to a couple of steals, easy baskets and the whole momentum of the game changed.”
The Rams built on their 29-28 halftime lead with the play of Ashton Donels and Annie Penquite.
Donels scored 16 of her 24 points after the break while Penquite scored 12 points in the second 16 minutes as the two combined for 51 points.
“Penquite really got to the basket and rebounded,” Klaahsen said. “She got all of the rebounds it seemed like and Donels also did a nice job getting to the basket on the drive. She really got us into foul trouble.”
The Rams, who led by as many as 15 points (61-46) late in the fourth quarter, took advantage at the free-throw line, hitting 20 of their 28 attempts from the charity stripe.
“You have to give them a lot of credit for hitting their free throws,” said Klaahsen, who saw the Rams get to the line 22 times in the second half. “They really shot the ball well from the free-throw line. They’re a good team. Their two losses are against Des Moines East and Iowa City High, two of the top 5A teams in the state.”
The Rams also connected on 10 of 22 attempts from the 3-point line while the Mohawks were just 6 of 24 from beyond the arc against Southeast Polk’s zone defenses.
“We have to look at what we do against a zone,” Klaahsen said. “This gives us a good learning experience.”
Lexy Pederson led the Mohawks with 14 points, Meyer added 12 points, McKenna Whitehill had nine points off the bench and Allison Scott and Myah Mellman added eight points apiece for Mason City.
“McKenna brought energy from the JV game into the varsity game,” Klaahsen said. “We’re missing Tricia Notermann and Kendall Cornick right now so we need someone to step in off the bench and give us positives. She was able to do that.”
The Mohawks travel to No. 10 (5A) Ames on Friday.
“It’s a road game against a really good team,” Klaahsen said. “We know they’re going to be fired up and ready to go. They beat us there last year, took it to us. Hopefully we have that in back of our minds when we go down there on Friday.”