With just over two weeks to go in the basketball season, the Neoga Indians are 9-0 with a chance to run the table and finish the season undefeated.
They have gotten through arguably the two toughest games on their schedule, defeating Altamont on the road in the season opener 68-65.
The Indians’ play has gotten attention of multiple basketball writers around the state, resulting in the Associated Press ranking Neoga No. 9 in Class 1A.
Sydney Richards led the way for Neoga that night, being a force down low and on the boards, scoring 19 points, many of which were second-chance points.
Abbi Hatton scored 14 and Kylee Phillips scored 13, including seven-of-10 from the free throw line, which proved pivotal down the stretch.
Audrey Ramert scored 11 points while going 5-of-6 from the free throw line down the stretch as well.
The team continued its level of play when they defeated Dieterich 63-27.
Kylee Phillips led all scorers with 16, while Richards had 15, nine rebounds and four steals. Audrey Ramert finished one point shy of a double-double, finishing with nine points, 11 rebounds and five steals.
Neoga was tested again when they traveled to Altamont for the second time last Thursday, this time with conference implications on the line.
The game went the exact opposite as the first game, as Neoga had to crawl back from an 8-point halftime deficit. They were able to do exactly that when Neoga outscored Altamont 23-9 in the third quarter on their way to a 57-54 win.
“We got down early, but I was so proud of the way these girls fought back,” said Neoga head girls basketball coach Kim Romack. “They could’ve easily gave in, but they fought back against a good team.”
According to Romack, it was the defense that Fearday and Trista Moore played on Grace Nelson, who had 40 the first time these two teams played, to help hold her 21 points below her season average.
“They are two of our defensive specialists,” Romack said. “We told Trista before the game ‘your job is to defend. If you score, that’s great, but we need you on defense. Those two did a great job against her.”
“When we were down, we were never upset with our defense,” Romack said. “We had to take care of the ball on the offensive end. We amped up the defense and pressured a little bit more to see if we could get something going on the offensive end, but when we started taking care of the ball a bit better we were able to get out of that hole.”
Neoga is now in the driver’s seat to win the National Trail Conference.
“We knew coming in that this team could be good,” Romack said. “They’re going above and beyond right now. We want them to stay hungry. Yeah, we’ve had a great start to our season, but we don’t want to settle.
“We knew coming in we were relatively young, and hadn’t necessarily played together a lot and we had to figure out what we had. We’ve done that the last couple of weeks and we’re fired up and ready to go for the last few weeks.”