DCG girls basketball falls short in season opener against Ballard

Andrew Brown
Dallas County News

The 2020 season opener for high school girls basketball officially came and went for several teams in Iowa on Friday, Nov. 20.  

Within the confines of Dallas Center-Grimes High School, Class 4A's 12th-ranked Mustangs found themselves on the losing end of a 52-23 decision. The loss came at the hands of Class 4A's third-ranked Ballard Bombers and marked the seventh season-opening loss for DCG since the 2006 campaign.

The 29-point defeat marked the largest season-opening loss for DCG girls basketball in over 15 seasons. That came against a visiting Ballard team fresh off of their 16th state tournament appearance with 85 percent of their scoring offense returning. 

"We knew they were going to be a great team coming in, so we expected exactly what we saw," said DCG head coach Adam Jones. "We turned the ball over too much and just made too many mistakes. We were our own worst enemy tonight."   

It was not what fans, coaches and even players were used to seeing from DCG who had a hard time finding much of a rhythm offensively in the contest. DCG was held to single-digit scoring in three quarters of play, something that's occurred in just four games across the past five years.

It also marked the first time in 15 years that no DCG individual produced a double-digit scoring performance. Senior Kylie Mercial had the highest point total for the Mustangs on the night, sporting six points on two second-half three-point buckets. Fellow senior Julia Reis, who ended last year averaging 10.6 points per contest, was limited to five points on the night. 

DCG's Julia Reis shooting free-throws on Friday, Nov. 20 during the season opener against Ballard.

One of the biggest downsides for the Mustangs came in time of possession, a battle Ballard dominated on the night. The Mustangs just couldn't find their normal consistent way of holding on to the ball and turning that into points.

DCG found themselves down 10-6 after one quarter, limited to just four shot attempts, connection on one of four. Things picked up in the second quarter with 11 shots put up but they connected on just 18 percent of those shots. Following an 18-7 second-quarter run, the Mustangs took to the halftime break down 28-10. 

The largest scoring output for the game came in the third quarter where DCG captured 12 points on 54 percent shooting while the visiting Bombers produced 13 points of their own. That quarter dwindled the Ballard lead to 19 points.

Emma Miner drives the ball down the court on Friday, Nov. 20 in the 2020 season opener against Ballard.

"We wanted to come out and play more aggressively and force them to make mistakes," said Jones. "When you play a team like that, your weaknesses get exposed but we're going to learn from this and improve." 

Unfortunately for the host Mustangs, they were unable to capitalize in the fourth quarter, producing their lowest single-quarter scoring output over the past 15 years. That came as DCG managed just one fourth quarter point. That lone point came on a free throw as the Mustangs fell short on all six shot attempts in the final quarter. 

Unfortunately for the Mustangs, they will begin 2020 with an 0-1 record as they dropped a contest to the Bombers for the ninth consecutive outing. Next up for DCG will be another home contest as they kick off next week with a showdown against Raccoon River Conference member North Polk at 7:30 p.m. on Tuesday, Nov. 24.  

DCG will be entering a contest that has favored them in the past, winning six out of the last seven contests between these two teams dating back to the 2009 campaign. There looks to be a significant increase in scoring as the Mustangs have averaged no less than 61.5 points per game against the Comets. 

Freshman Vanessa Bickford with a running shot on Friday, Nov. 20 against Ballard in the 2020 season opener.