BY CHUCK VANDENBERG
DONNELLSON – Central Lee Head Coach Jay Baldwin is looking for anyone to give Mya Merschman a helping hand.
Merschman put up 26 points amidst double teams and sagging defenses, but the effort wasn’t enough to hold off West Burlington, who got 24 points from Natalie Vandenberg in a 59-46 Southeast Iowa Superconference win Friday night.
“Right now we’re just looking for that second and third scorer,” Baldwin said. “We’ve got the one’s that can do it, it’s just a confidence thing. They miss a shot and then don’t take another.”
The Falcons raced out to a 10-7 first quarter lead, but needed a 3-ball from Makayla Morrison to cut it to three with about a minute left. Morrison was one of only three other players to score for the Hawks.
West Burlington would push their lead to 13 at 25-12 when Vandenberg converted the front end of the one-and one. But the Hawks would chip away with a 8-4 run to end the half, including a 3-pointer from Merschman prior to the buzzer.
The Hawks focused their attention on Falcon seniors Sydney Marlow, Leah Collier and Annaka Harris who like to get up and down the floor. Marlow had 18 in the Falcons 70-37 win over Danville earlier in the week.
Vandenberg, also a senior, threw a wrench into the Hawks’ game plan.
“It was really pick your poison there. They’re a well-balanced team and you can’t slack off any or they can punish you,” Baldwin said.
Central Lee would cut the lead to 10 at 36-46 just into the third quarter, but Vandenberg would bury a 3-ball from the right baseline to put it back at 13 and Central wouldn’t get any closer.
Baldwin said Merschman did an excellent job of reacting to the constant double teams. When the Falcons would collapse a third girl in on the 6-1 senior in sagging man defense, Merschman would find open girls but the shots just didn’t go down.
“Mya’s gonna get triple teamed all year,” Baldwin said. “She did a great job and kicking it out to the open person but we just didn’t hit them.
“The team effort was there tonight and that’s something that we’ve been preaching and that’s good. Now we have to clean up the little things and improves as we go.”
Macy Watkins finished with eight points and Morrison had six. Ella Sanders also had six points both 3-pointers in the second half.
The Hawks are 1-2 on the year and travel to Danville on Tuesday. West Burlington improves to 2-0 on the year.