DES MOINES — Two years ago, a young group of Clarksville girls’ basketball players met after finishing their freshman season 9-13.
The focus of the meeting was what it would take to get better.
A year and a ton of extra work later, the Indians went 20-4, setting a school record for wins before falling in the regional semifinals to eventual Class 1A state tournament qualifier AGWSR.
After that loss, the Clarksville players held another meeting.
“I remember Janet Borchardt coming up to me and saying, ‘6 a.m., Monday morning, we’ve got to go back to work,’” Indians’ head coach Ross Timmermans recalls.
While it may have been Borchardt’s voice that spoke that day, it was more of a collective thought by the entire team and what Timmermans says is the group’s desire and passion to achieve at a high level.
That drive led the Indians to uncharted waters in the program’s history when their victory over North Butler last Monday earned Clarksville its first state tournament appearance.
Wednesday at 3:15 p.m. when the Indians take the floor at Wells Fargo Arena to face Bellevue Marquette in a first-round Class 1A state tournament game, it will be largely because the Indians have not been outworked by anybody.
“There are so many unseen hours on the floor working, and a ton of investment building relationships among themselves,” Timmermans said. “This trip is a validation and understanding by a group on what it takes to win.”
Borchardt, Clarksville’s 5-foot-11 junior center and second-leading scorer at 13 points per game, agrees.
“It has been a testament to hard work,” Borchardt said.
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Borchardt also remembers that meeting after the 9-13 season.
“That was the switch ... it was the day we decided we could be a lot better,” Borchardt said.
With its mission to make it to state completed, Clarksville knows it has a huge challenge on Wednesday.
Bellevue is one of the top rebounding teams in the state with three players averaging more than seven rebounds a game — Miranda Peters (7.7), Teona Richman (8.0) and Tori Michel (10.1).
“They are big and control the paint,” Timmermans said. “They clean up the offensive boards. We are going to have to do a great job on the glass if we want a chance to win the game.”
On the flip side, the Indians say they are at their best when playing lockdown defense.
Led by two-time all-state softball pitcher Kory Wedeking, Clarksville tries to make things uncomfortable for teams from one end of the floor to the other.
“We are going to use our speed, quickness and athleticism,” Timmermans said. “We are going to trap and pressure you over 84 feet for 32 minutes.”
“Our best offense is when we play good defense,” Borchardt added. “We want to push the ball, and play lock-down defense.”
Wedeking is the point of that defensive effort. In addition to leading the Indians in scoring at 17.5 points per game, she averages 6.5 steals each game. As a team, Clarksville has averaged 21 takeaways per game.
That pressure defense has allowed just one team in 22 games this season to score 50 points, and that was AGWSR when the Cougars handed the Indians one of their two losses, a 50-43 defeat.