Basketball: Veteran-laden P-C girls crack 1A rankings
By BRANDON HURLEY
A steady rise has earned its rightful recognition.
Paton-Churdan one of the top teams in the Rolling Valley Conference, has now entered the ranks of Class 1A’s elite.
The girls’ basketball team, a full eight games over .500, rocketed their way into the 1A rankings for the first time this winter on Jan. 28. The Rockets are currently rated at No. 15, one of two Rolling Valley Conference teams to crack the list, joining the rankings for the first time in over five years.
P-C was 8-2 over a 10 game stretch when they cracked the Iowa Girls’ High School Athletic Union rankings on Jan. 28, boasting an 11-3 overall record. One of those losses was against a ranked foe in No. 6 Exira-EHK.
In fact, three of the Rockets four losses this fall have come against opponents currently ranked in the top 15. Seventh-ranked Collins-Maxwell Jan. 28 and fifth-rated Exira-EHK on Jan. 19. In fact, two of P-C’s four defeats this year have come against the E-EHK Spartans. The Rockets only other loss was to a non-conference foe, West Bend-Mallard in the first game back from a nearly two-week layoff.
Last week’s distinction by the Iowa High School Girls’ Athletic Union is the first time a girls’ basketball team from within Greene County has been ranked in more than five years. The Rockets are sitting comfortably in second place in the Rolling Valley Conference with a 9-2 record.
Undefeated Exira-EHK is 15-0 overall with an 11-0 league record.
The Rockets are led by a vaunted veteran core, highlighted by the imposing presence of Danielle Hoyle. The senior has been top five in the state in scoring for much of the winter, at one point holding the No. 1 spot for several weeks, while nearly notching a double-double each time she steps on the court (21.9ppg and 10.9 rebonds per game). The senior leads the Rolling Valley in scoring and is ranked third in Class 1A. She’s also third in the state in blocks per game at 3.6, while her rebounding rate has her ninth in 1A and second in the Rolling Valley Conference, only behind West Harrison’s Emily Mcintosh (12.2 rpg). Hoyle also leads the RVC in shooting percentage, knocking down her shots at a 67.6 percent clip, which ranks her third in the state.
Carmyn Paup is second in the RVC in passing at four assists per contest while fellow senior Tessa Steimel is first in the RVC in total three-pointers made at 37, nailing her long balls at a 34.6 percent rate. Chloe Berns is fifth with 22 made three-pointers.
As a team, the Rockets are knocking down shots at a 41.4 percent clip (second-best in the RVC) while they have drained a total of 108 three pointers, which was the top mark in the league entering Tuesday’s slate of games, ahead of Exira-EHK at 107 makes, and fourth in the state. Eighth-ranked Montezuma (17-1) leads Class 1A with 177 made three-pointers. The Rockets are also second in passing with 239 assists (CAM is first with 248).
Defense is where Paton-Churdan has had its most success during this recent hot streak. The group of youngsters are holding opponents to just 41.2 points per game, including surrendering less than 40 points in five of their last nine games. When P-C’s defense keeps a team under 40 points, it’s nearly a guarantee for victory. In each of the Rockets’ four losses this winter, they’ve allowed an average of 59 points per game.
The Rockets have blocked 64 total shots, the second-best mark in the conference while they’ve come up with 115 steals, good enough for seventh in the league.
The Rockets helped bolster their case for a spot in the Class 1A rankings with a win over a ranked team of their own when they upset then rated CAM, 49-36 on Jan. 8. The Rockets were anchored by a masterful defensive performance, holding the Rockets to 32 percent shooting and just 14 points in the second half.
Paton-Churdan actually held a one-point halftime lead in their top 15 showdown with Collins-Maxwell last week on Jan. 28 before an explosive third quarter allowed the Spartans to take control. C-M scored 21 points in the third quarter, holding the Rockets to 10 points, taking a commanding nine-point lead. P-C knocked down 46 percent of their shots in the loss, including eight of their 21 three-pointers for a 38 percent clip. Danielle Hoyle was once again dominant, securing a double-double with 24 points (10-of-13 from the field) to go with 12 rebounds, three blocks, two steals and two assists. Berns chipped in 14 points thanks to four three-pointers in addition to two assists and two steals.
The difference was Collins-Maxwell’s hot shooting, nailing a remarkable 53.5 percent of their field goal attempts though they managed to make just three of their 14 three-pointers. The victory marked the Spartans 16th-straight, improving to a perfect 16-0 on the season. Collins-Maxwell came in allowing just 26 points per contest before P-C lit up the scoreboard for 55 points.
The Rockets rebounded Jan. 29 with a narrow, 52-47 win over Woodbine.
A Paton-Churdan girls’ basketball team last qualified for the state tournament back in 1967. The first round of Class 1A regional play begins Feb. 16. The 2021 state tournament will be held March 1-6 at Wells Fargo Arena in downtown Des Moines.