They’re running. They’re gunning.
And so far, it’s working.
Edgewood-Colesburg has cranked its girls’ basketball tempo into a dizzying overdrive. The result is a 2-0 start and a scoring average of 98 points per game.
“It has created somewhat of a buzz around town,” said Roger Wright, who picked up his 300th win Tuesday when the Vikings dropped Elkader Central, 93-52. “I had another coach ask if I was going through a midlife crisis.”
No crisis. Just a way of playing to the athleticism of his team.
“I thought this would fit our personnel,” he said.
Eleven players are in the rotation, with substitutions every 45-60 seconds. The objective is to spread the floor, score quickly, then press hard.
It’s a similar tactic employed by the Grinnell College men’s team, then adapted last season by the Gladbrook-Reinbeck girls. Last year, Gladbrook-Reinbeck and West Marshall set a national record for points in a game (G-R won it, 122-118 in double overtime).
“We’re not trying to trade 3-pointers for 2-pointers. We’re just trying to spread the floor and score, then get into a full-court press and trap from baseline to baseline,” said Wright, in his 24th season at Ed-Co.
The Vikings (11-11 last season) started instituting the new style during summer ball, then unveiled it formally in a 103-100 double-OT win over Decorah in their opener Nov. 19. It was 80-all at the end of regulation, 88-apiece after one overtime.
Nine players are averaging at least 5 points per game, led by Kristy Lueken (20.0), Kari Fitzpatrick (14.0) and Nikki Niehaus (13.5). Lueken and Niehaus are seniors, Fitzpatrick a freshman.
The team is putting up big points despite modest shooting percentages. The Vikings are hitting 39 percent from the floor, 27 percent from long distance.
But those rates are certainly palatable when you’re taking nearly 90 shots per game, including 37 from 3-point range.
“We don’t want the kids to put up off-balance shots under pressure,” Wright said. “But if they’re in range, everybody’s got the green light.
“We’ve found that spreading the floor like this has allowed us a lot of opportunities for offensive rebounds.”
The shift into overdrive has been program-wide. The JV and freshmen teams employ it as well. There are 11 freshmen out for basketball at Ed-Co this season.
“The kids love it,” Wright said. “When we decided to do this, I made these promises — some nights we’ll score 85 points, some nights we’ll give up 85 points, and we’ll be fun to watch.”
Ed-Co opens Tri-Rivers Conference play Tuesday at Starmont.
MVC opens Tuesday
The Mississippi Valley Conference slate begins Tuesday, with Class 4A top-ranked Iowa City West (2-0) traveling to Dubuque Senior (0-1).
MVC schools were a combined 16-6 in pre-league play, including 9-3 against the Mississippi Athletic Conference.
In other MVC games of note, No. 13 Iowa City High (2-0) hosts Linn-Mar (2-0) while No. 11 Cedar Rapids Xavier (3-0) travels to 3A No. 3 Dubuque Wahlert (1-0).