Bettendorf — The Camanche Indians saw their postseason run come to an end on Saturday after a 64-45 loss to the Assumption Knights at Pleasant Valley High School in regional play.
“We just kind of fell short tonight,” Camanche Coach Brett DeNeve said.
Camanche struck early, scoring the first points of the game and going up by four points. The Knights responded with an 11-1 run in the next six minutes to take an 11-5 lead at the quarter.
“We did get up, and then it kind of went downhill after that,” DeNeve said. “We played hard, but they were hitting shots. Assumption played really well. They shot it well and we couldn’t run them off the three. It was a physical game in the post.”
The outside shots killed the Indians in the first half, with Assumption draining seven from beyond the arc. That helped them extend their lead in the second and have the 37-22 advantage by the half.
The Indians cut into the lead a couple of times in the second half, pulling within 12 or 13 points but never gained enough offensive momentum to dig out of the hole.
“We had our opportunities to try to cut it down,” DeNeve said. “We took timeouts to make sure we didn’t have sad faces. The girls really responded and they kept battling that whole time.”
Sami Puckett led the Indians with 14 points, followed by Madi Parson with 10, Marly Bussa with nine and Hanna Nissen with eight.
“Watching them on film and stuff, they didn’t look like the Assumptions of the past but they really stroked it well tonight,” DeNeve said of the Knights. “They shot really well, and I was impressed. They played a good game.”
DeNeve said despite the afternoon weather, the crowd at Pleasant Valley High School was impressive and that the community has supported the Indians throughout the entire season.
“The crowd really followed us and came out to cheer. I think we had a bigger crowd than Assumption, it was one of our better crowds. We appreciate that,” DeNeve said. “It was a team effort through and through all year. I was proud of how the girls stuck together. It’s hard to say goodbye to the seniors and it was just a tough night.”
With the loss comes the end of the careers of the five seniors: Marly Bussa, Lea Lefebure, Paige Waltz, Emily McEllroy and Alex Nielsen.
“They’re really a fun group. It’s very rare that you end up graduating five seniors,” DeNeve said. “You dwindle down through the years. People start to go their different directions and to end up with five is really cool. They all have a personality and different skill sets.”
The athletic group has built up a list of accolades over the last four years that will be hard to beat.
“All-time leading scorers, three points, field goals. I think I added up 10 or 11 records that they have set,” DeNeve said. “It’s pretty remarkable what they’ve done and it’s just a really athletic class.”
Although the seniors come off a little quiet, DeNeve said they have an electric personality once they become comfortable.
“They’re a group that once you get to know them they really open up. If you don’t know them, you would think that they were shy. They’re very reserved,” DeNeve said. “Once you get to know them, they are non-stop.
“They’re a heck of a dancing and singing group I can tell you that.”
DeNeve certainly is one of those people who gets to see their fun side. He coached the group of seniors and juniors in a travel league when they were in middle school and has had them for the entirety of their high school basketball career.
“We get along and bicker at each other, I almost think of them as daughters more than basketball players most of the time just because of how much I care about them,” DeNeve said. “It’s a special group. There were a lot of tears in that locker room. I would have done anything to help them get there.”
The five seniors and the rest of the team finish out the 2017-2018 season with a 17-7 record.
“Those kids are going to do great things in life. One game here or there is not going to define who they are, DeNeve said. “Hopefully they had more fun in the hundreds of games they’ve played than just one loss tonight.”
The seniors do leave behind a solid core of players for the Indians: Madi Parson, Sami Puckett, Hanna Nissen and Camryn Carstensen are all juniors who have made significant impacts on the success of Camanche basketball. DeNeve said it was almost like thinking of the juniors and seniors as one because of how close the two classes were.