Mustangs roll in opener

DES MOINES – Putting on a clinic in all phases of the game, the Newell-Fonda girls moved one step closer to their first state basketball title in program history Monday morning.

The second-ranked Mustangs (23-2 overall) hammered overwhelmed Villisca by a 75-28 count in a Class 1A quarterfinal at Wells Fargo Arena.

The victory was the second highest in a four class tournament. Hinton defeated Guthrie Center by 54 (81-27) in a 2002 Class 1A contest.

Up next for Newell-Fonda in Wednesday night’s 1A semifinal at 8:30 p.m. is No. 13 Bellevue Marquette (17-6). The Mohawks earned a 65-57 overtime upset against fourth-ranked Ar-We-Va in Monday’s other quarterfinal.

“I was very impressed with our effort,” said N-F head coach Dick Jungers, who improved to 226-49 overall in his 11 years at the helm. “Our kids just kept bringing (the defensive pressure) at them.

“I don’t know how many times this year (the Bluejays) saw teams that played our style, but they had a hard time getting into their offense.

“We did a nice job of getting into the passing lanes and making them take tough shots.”

Renee Maneman, a 5-foot-5 junior point guard, was the offensive catalyst for the Mustangs, netting a game-high 15 points on 7-for-11 shooting. Maneman added six assists and four steals.

“We started pushing the ball, and they couldn’t keep up with us,” Maneman said. “This (victory) definitely boosts our confidence level.”

Senior Andrea Christensen (14) and freshman reserve Jordan Wilken (11) each reached double figures in scoring, as well, for co-Twin Lakes Conference champion Newell-Fonda. Defensively, the relentless Mustangs forced 31 turnovers, collected 15 steals and held Villisca to only nine made field goals in its lowest scoring output of the season.

“It’s not just one person, but we work very well together as a team,” said Christensen. “We just need to keep pushing now game by game.”

Down by the slimmest of margins late in the opening quarter, Newell-Fonda pulled away with a furious 31-4 run to end the first half. With all the momentum on their side, the Mustangs then outscored the Bluejays by 21 points after the break, as the clock ran continuously for nearly the final 13 minutes due to the 35-point differential rule.

“We were all a little nervous at the beginning, but once we got a feel for the climate and a touch on the rim, we were good,” Christensen said.

As a team, Newell-Fonda fired at a 46.9 clip from the floor compared to only 23.1 for Villisca. All 15 Mustang players saw action in the contest, with 11 of those tallying at least two points.

Jill Vanderhoof managed 11 points and nine rebounds for the Bluejays (21-5), whose only other state trip came back in 1968. Next year, Villisca will join with Corning to become the Southwest Valley Timberwolves.

Perennial power Newell-Fonda, which is making its ninth-ever state appearance, previously settled for 1A

runner-up honors in 1997, 2000 and 2008.

“You never know how things are going to go that first game (in Des Moines),” said Jungers, who has also guided N-F to the state softball tourament six times since 2005, including a 1A crown in ’08. “I think our previous state experience (in 2011) helped big in our mental preparation.”