Storm basketball swept at home by Wartburg

Storm basketball swept at home by Wartburg

by Brock Borgeson, Sports Editor

INDIANOLA, Iowa – Two stellar individual performances from players on the Wartburg men’s and women’s basketball teams fueled a sweep of the Storm at Cowles Fieldhouse last night.

Women’s Game: Wartburg 77, Simpson 61

After a first quarter that featured five lead changes, the Simpson women just couldn’t get their traction as they fell 77-61 to the Wartburg Knights on Wednesday.

“The difference in the game tonight was totally effort,” head coach Brian Niemuth said. “They played like they wanted to win the game and we didn’t.”

Simpson (12-8, 5-4) has hunkered down on defense this season when at home, keeping teams to only 53 points three different times, but Wartburg’s 77 points set a season-high against the Storm when at home.

Sophomore guard Katie Sommer was a big reason for the Knights’ success as she scored 27 points, 17.2 points higher than her season average.

“I thought we could stay between her and the basket and we didn’t,” Niemuth said. “Again, a lot of that was effort. I think she made them go tonight and she created a lot of shots for other people.”

Wartburg put together a 21-5 run from the 7:48 mark in the second quarter all the way through the half, taking the lead for good and the momentum in the process with a 37-23 at the break.

The Knights (14-6, 4-5) shot 48 percent from the field in the second half, helping quell any comeback from Simpson.

Both teams shot an impressive 21-24 from the free throw line although Wartburg was more efficient from the field, shooting 47.1 percent (24-of-51) to Simpson’s 31.6 percent (18-of-57).

Maddie Bosworth led Simpson with 10 points and three steals, while Noreen Morrow posted nine points and five rebounds.

Wartburg was lifted by a 20-point, seven rebound performance from center Aryn Jones who filled in for usual center, Kailey Kladivo.

“We have to watch film and figure out what we can get better at and try to make the adjustments we need to make the third time through,” Niemuth said. “And I know we will play with better effort next time.”

Up Next:

Simpson finishes a two-game homestand with a 2 p.m. matchup against Central (1-8, 4-16) on Saturday at Cowles Fieldhouse.

Men’s Game: Wartburg 95, Simpson 87

The men’s side of the Iowa Conference is up for grabs this season and Wednesday continued to delineate the parody in the league as Wartburg repaid Simpson for a home loss by coming into Cowles Fieldhouse and winning 95-87 behind a 29-point outburst from junior Jordan Cannon.

“I think they were making a lot more of their shots and our defense early on was a little shotty,” sophomore Sabonis Smith said. “But the ball didn’t go our way a lot.”

One of those instances in which the ball, or at least the call didn’t go Simpson’s (12-8, 5-4) way was at the 7:31 mark in the second half. Wartburg (12-8, 5-4), who led by as many as 26 points in the second half, had its lead cut to 70-61 and it would have been even more slim if Austin Turner hadn’t been called for a traveling violation upon steal an inbounds pass. The call took a potential seven-point deficit and helped it balloon to as big as 76-61 less than a minute later after a pair of Wartburg buckets.

Simpson didn’t relent but managed to keep it within a 10 point margin for most of the game, although an early deficit was too much to overcome.

“Well, I think we panicked a little bit as coaches,” head coach Brad Bjorkgren said. “They made some shots early and at that point we kind of thought the game was over.”

Dillon Gretzky helped lead Simpson’s near-comeback, scoring 15 of his team-high 16 points in the second half after the Storm trailed at the break. Cannon one-upped the senior from Grinnell with 20 of his 29 in the second half, driving to the basket with ease while also hitting 3-of-6 3-pointers.

Wartburg not only shot the ball exceedingly well, shooting 53.4 percent (31-of-58), but had many second-chance opportunities thanks to a dominating rebounding margin of 45-31.  

Sophomore Sam Amsbaugh led the Storm bench with 15 points on 9-of-10 from the free throw line. Ryan Skaar, who had a cold 1-of-11 night from 3-point range, still managed 14 points while DJ Dafney chipped in with 12.

Bjorkgren, who coached Urbandale High School boys basketball for 27 years, coached opposite one of his ex-players at Urbandale in Jaran Sabus of Wartburg on Wednesday.

Depending on how the remaining five conference games play out, Bjorkgren and Sabus could meet again come conference tournament time.

Saturday’s home meeting with Central at 4 p.m. will be the next step towards a conference tournament appearance. Simpson topped the Dutch 86-78 in Pella last week, although Central won on Wednesday night, knotting the Storm up with Central at 5-4 in conference play.

“We’ll be playing against a team we beat on the road again but [this time] we can’t let them get our backs up against the wall,” Bjorkgren said. “We have to be the aggressor and prove that it is our game to win.”