AMES -- Jefferson had no answers and no reinforcements in its Class 4A regional semifinal girls basketball game against Ames Saturday night.
The J-Hawks were blown away by the Little Cyclones, 75-35.
"I told the girls to be realistic about things," Jefferson Coach Larry Niemeyer said. "Give Ames credit, they were pumped up. They have seniors who have been there and knew what they were playing for."
Jefferson (9-14) ended its season without an answer to its biggest question: Will veteran coach Niemeyer be back on the sidelines next season? Jefferson Athletic Director Scott Kibby told the Metro Sports Report last week that he would meet after the season with Niemeyer to discuss his future as head of the program.
"I haven't decided on my future," Niemeyer said Saturday.
Jefferson, without any seniors on its team, has been forced to play with its future squad all season long. Make that play with some of its future team. The J-Hawks were crippled by injuries that shelved three starters for the last half of the season. The J-Hawks usually have played just five girls.
"I have never had three starters out for an extended period of time," Niemeyer said. "The kids that came in did the best they could."
The J-Hawks have played with a limited number of girls with varsity experience. Jefferson starts five players with some experience, but the bench is made up of five freshman that had no high school experience before this season.
Ames exploited the inexperienced J-Hawks from the tip. The Little Cyclones scored the first seven points and they ended the first quarter with a 20-5 lead.
The rout was on. Ames, led by senior Jenna Powers' six first-half 3-point goals, poured it on and led 40-13 at halftime.
"We knew she was a good shooter," Niemeyer said of Powers. "We told the girls, but we have trouble identifying people."
Powers' display spread out the Jefferson defense.
"We took what they gave us. Jenna was on early and kids got her the ball," Ames Coach Joel Sullivan said. "They had to adjust and it opened up the inside game for us then, too."
Jefferson threw everything it had at Ames in the second half with a 2-3 zone, a 1-3-1 zone, and eventually a seldom used man defense.
The Little Cyclones continued to build their lead through out the second half and went on to easily advance to the regional finals Tuesday against Cedar Falls at Marshalltown.
"It's no fun for the players or coaches to lose by 40," Niemeyer said.
Jefferson interior anchor Maddie Koolbeck led the J-Hawks with 20 points, despite Ames trying to limit her touches.
"I don't know if you can stop Koolbeck. She is going to get a shot every possession or every other possession," Sullivan said of Ames' defensive game plan. "We wanted to pressure the guards to take away her touches."
Niemeyer lauded his junior post.
"Since losing the three starters, Koolbeck has worked her butt off. She has become a very productive player," Niemeyer said. "She had 20 tonight and earned everyone of them."
Sophomore Maddy Blietz added 12 for Jefferson.
Powers ended the game with a team record nine 3-pointers and led all scorers with 29.
JEFFERSON (35): Alleigha Church-Green 1 0-0 2, Maddy Blietz 5 2-2 12, Dani Stromert 0 0-0 0, Maddie Koolbeck 9 2-2 20, Kieley Brathwaite 0 1-2 1, Hannah Towns 0 0-0 0, Kylie Jonas 0 0-0 0, Emma Rowles 0 0-0 0, Bethany Polansky 0 0-0 0. Totals 15 5-6 35.
AMES (75): Jenna Powers 10 0-0 29, Molly Sanders 1 0-1 2, Shaya Kellogg 4 2-2 12, Janae VerHeist 2 0-0 4, Cheyenne Pritchard 2 2-2 6, Bailee Jackson 1 0-0 2, Ashley Ray 0 0-0 0, Jamie Steyer 3 0-0 7, Kayla Sankey 0 1-2 1, Laura Friedrich 2 0-0 4, Kiana Peterson 1 0-0 2, Stella Marie Strohman 1 0-0 2, Sunny Hampton 1 2-2 4, Afton Clemens 0 0-0 0. Totals 28 7-9 75.
Halftime -- Ames 40, Jefferson 13. 3-point goals -- Jefferson 0, Ames 12 (Powers 9, Kellogg 2, Steyer). Total Fouls -- Jefferson 11, Ames 12. Fouled Out -- Brathwaite.
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