It’s been a wild ride this year for Morningside College junior women’s basketball player Taylor Rodenburgh.
Morningside made the 2020 NAIA national tournament. As luck would have it, the Mustangs’ journey was complete before that tournament was canceled while in progress due tot the coronavirus pandemic. If that was good luck or bad luck was a matter of perspective. The Mustangs had played in a first-round game in Sioux City and lost to West Virginia Tech.
Rodenburgh, a 2018 West Sioux High School graduate, was preparing to start her junior season when she injured her right knee. It turned out to be a torn meniscus and it took her six weeks to recover from the surgery.
“It was my second surgery, but the first one was an ACL. This one wasn’t quite as bad,” Rodenburgh said. “It didn’t hurt quite as much so I figured I’d be back fairly quickly.”
She came back in the role of a super sub for the Mustangs. Rodenburgh played in 26 games, but started just one. Still, Rodenburgh averaged 22 minutes per game and scored 11 points per contest. She averaged 5.7 rebounds per game and finished with 36 assists and 38 steals.
“I’m pretty comfortable with that role,” she said. “The coaches never said that was the plan, but it’s kind of the role I’ve taken. Compared to defense, offense comes much more naturally to me. I like to shoot. I like to get to the basket when I can. I also like to be a facilitator for my teammates.”
Rodenburgh had 12 points and 11 rebounds in a 67-65 win over Concordia University in the Great Plains Athletic Conference Tournament championship game.
As tournament champions, Morningside got the GPAC’s automatic bid to the NAIA national tournament. The team has made nationals in each year of Rodenburgh’s career, but this time was a little different. In past years, NAIA basketball has been split into Division I and Division II. Morningside played in Division II. This year, all NAIA schools played in one national tournament. The expansion of the tournament meant not all national tournament games were played in Sioux City, the hometown of the Mustangs. Qualifiers had to go to regional pods of three teams with the top-seeded team earning a bye. The winner of each regional advanced to Sioux City.
“This year our first round was in Wichita, which definitely felt different,” Rodenburgh said. “There were fewer teams there. It was still fun to go down and spend a couple of nights in the hotel just hanging out with my teammates.”
She said being mixed in against larger schools did not bother the Mustangs.
“I can’t even tell the difference as far as level of competition,” she said.
Rodenburgh had another double-double with 20 points and 10 rebounds in a 90-70 national tournament win over Saint Xavier University in the first round. Morningside then got to Sioux City and won a 53-42 decision over the University of St. Francis with Rodenburgh contributing eight points. The wins over the two Illinois schools set up a quarterfinal rematch with Concordia. Morningside won that battle 83-67 with Rodenburgh tossing in 20 points.
Monday’s national semifinal against top-ranked Thomas More University of Kentucky would prove to be the end of the line for Morningside. The Mustangs rallied from an early deficit and had the lead with less than eight minutes to go, but fell 65-62. Rodenburgh had seven points and nine rebounds in the contest.
Boys hoops honors
The Iowa Print Sports Writers Association announced its all-state boys basketball teams for the 2020-21 season.
Four N’West Iowa players made the first team list in Class 2A: Western Christian junior Ty Van Essen, Boyden-Hull junior Tanner Te Slaa, Boyden-Hull senior Marcus Kelderman and Okoboji junior Lucas Lorenzen. Central Lyon sophomore Zach Lutmer was on the second team.
In Class 1A, Gehlen Catholic sophomore Keaten Bonderson was an all-state second-team selection.
The Iowa Basketball Coaches Association does all-substate teams, but not all-state squads.
In Class 1A Substate 1, Bonderson, Gehlen Catholic junior Carter DeRocher, Hartley-Melvin-Sanborn sophomore Lance Berends and South O’Brien sophomore Jake Wallin made the all-substate team and Gehlen Catholic’s Mike Langel was coach of the year.
In Class 2A Substate 1, Te Slaa, Kelderman and Unity Christian senior Clayton Bosma made the list. In Class 2A Substate 2, Van Essen, Lorenzen, Lutmer, Rock Valley junior Landyn Van Kekerix and Sibley-Ocheyedan senior Carter Brouwer got the nod.
MOC-Floyd Valley sophomore Ayden Klein made the Class 3A Substate 1 all-substate team.