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Ethan girls open state tourney against Waverly-South Shore

ETHAN--Tom Young doesn't want to overcomplicate things for the Ethan girls basketball team. In fact, the Ethan coach talks about the top-seeded Rustlers' strategy in the simplest terms. That means taking it game by game, but also not overlooking ...

Ethan's Jessica Bartscher shoots a 3-pointer during a game against Corsica-Stickney on Feb. 11 in Stickney. (Jeremy Karll / Republic)
Ethan's Jessica Bartscher shoots a 3-pointer during a game against Corsica-Stickney on Feb. 11 in Stickney. (Jeremy Karll / Republic)

ETHAN-Tom Young doesn't want to overcomplicate things for the Ethan girls basketball team.

In fact, the Ethan coach talks about the top-seeded Rustlers' strategy in the simplest terms. That means taking it game by game, but also not overlooking a single possession.

"I try to simplify it as much as possible. I try to go possession by possession," Young said. "Each time they come down the floor, we want to make a defensive stop. Every time we go down the floor, we want to take care of the basketball and (take) good shots."

Simplicity has worked for Ethan this season. The Rustlers have rolled to a 22-0 record, beating Dupree, 70-38, in the SoDak 16 to make their fifth-straight Class B state tournament. They play No. 8 seed Waverly-South Shore (15-7) at noon today at the Huron Arena.

However, Young isn't caught up in being the No. 1 seed or last unbeaten girls team in Class B, especially when facing a Coyote team which knocked off SoDak 16 No. 2 seed Faith, 48-43. Instead, the Rustlers are focused on themselves.

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"We've been here before, and my belief is we just need to be solid ourselves," Young said. "... We're going to play three different games no matter how we do, so it's really not who we're playing. It's more we have to take care of ourselves."
Ethan has taken care of itself all season, winning all but two games by double digits and defeating three state qualifiers-Warner (49-28), Corsica-Stickney (54-45) and Freeman (50-31). It has outscored its opponents 193-67 in the postseason, as well.

That said, Young isn't worried about how his team will react in a potential close game, citing Ethan's upperclassmen leadership and tough regular-season schedule.

"Even though our scores indicate there haven't been many close games, I think we've been in some tough games with some teams," he said. "That has provided some good experience for us. So even though it wasn't a two-point game, they were intense."
Senior forward Karly Gustafson provides the most experience. About to play in her fifth state tournament, Gustafson leads the team in scoring (20 ppg), rebounding (7.6 ppg) and field-goal percentage (54 percent), while ranking second in steals (49) and third in assists (65).

Gustafson will be key in containing the Coyotes' size, too. This season, the Rustlers' zone defense allowed 30.9 points per game. Although, they will have to stop 5-foot-11 Ali Kranz, who averages 17.3 points, 8.3 rebounds and 3.1 steals per game, and 6-foot-2 Emily Kranz, who adds 11.3 points and 7.6 boards per contest.

"They're big," Young said. "They're definitely bigger than us. They can shoot the ball, too. ... I think looking down the roster at all the other teams, they all have good players and players with experience."

The Rustlers have a bevy of options outside of Gustafson, though.

Cameryn Logan and Maddie Miiller both average 10 points per game, helping Ethan average 57 points per contest. Jessica Bartscher leads the team with 54 steals and is second in assists (70) behind Miiller (80). Mollie Miiller grabs 4.6 rebounds per game, too.

While Ethan has many scoring options, Young has put an emphasis on ball security.

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"We have to keep our turnovers low and play relaxed and poised to play with more free than play with fear," he said. "... If (Waverly-South Shore) can knock off the No. 2 seed, they can knock off the No. 1 seed, so we're not going to take them lightly."

Related Topics: ETHAN
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