Back-to-back

Same song, second verse for the St. Edmond girls basketball team.

The 14th-ranked (Class 2A) Gaels posted a 55-38 home victory over Iowa Falls-Alden here Friday, securing at least a share of their second consecutive North Central Conference championship on Senior Night.

Anna Yung scored a career-high 23 points for St. Edmond, which finishes the regular season 19-2 overall and 16-2 in the NCC. Playing their fifth game in eight days, the Gaels found a second wind after a sluggish second quarter and pulled away to assure the league hardware wouldn’t be leaving their trophy case.

”I’m just so proud of our players,” SEHS head coach Scott Messerly said. ”They work so well together as a team. It’s a special group of kids, and I’m truly blessed and fortunate to be a part of it – as was the case a year ago.

”We lost seven seniors (from the 2011-12 championship squad that went 20-2 overall and 18-0 in the conference) to graduation. That’s not easy to replace. Our kids stepped up and worked incredibly hard to get to this point. I was worried about this one because Iowa Falls-Alden is a quality ballclub and we’ve had such a busy stretch in the last week, but we had a big third quarter to find some breathing room.”

The Gaels led by just two points at halftime, but Yung made sure the Cadets (12-7, 10-6) wouldn’t get any closer. The junior tallied nine points in the opening two-plus minutes of the period – giving her 21 in the contest through just 18 minutes and 10 seconds of action – as St. Edmond went up by double digits.

Junior Alli Huss had 11 of her 17 points after the break, and Hannah Lentsch – the squad’s lone senior – finished with nine points after going scoreless in the first half.

”Anna was terrific,” Messerly said. ”It wasn’t just her scoring – she had a handful of assists and did a great job defensively along with Jaci (Stumpf) on (Jamie) Peterson (IF-A’s top offensive weapon).

”Alli and Hannah were both solid in the second half as well. It was a very unselfish effort by our team. They didn’t use any excuses about being tired and got the job done.”

This is the fourth NCC title for the program, as the 2013 Gaels join their 2000, ’04 and ’12 counterparts. St. Edmond is now 75-10 overall and 64-7 in conference play over the last four seasons.

Hampton-Dumont (16-3, 14-2) can still stand next to the Gaels atop the final standings if the Bulldogs defeat Webster City at home and Algona on the road to finish the year.

St. Edmond is now off for the next 10 days. They will face either Prairie Valley (9-9) or Carroll Kuemper (12-7) at home on Feb. 12 in a Class 2A, Region 2 semifinal.