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Gradwell, Willems drop 30 in NICL All-Star game

March 25, 2018
Thorn Compton - Central Iowa Press , Reinbeck Courier

REINBECK - While fans might have gathered to watch the NICL Senior All-Star game on Friday night at Gladbrook-Reinbeck High School, what they saw was actually an incredible showing by the West Divsion's two top players.

Mandy Willems from AGWSR and Isabelle Gradwell from West Marshall showed why they were both named co-Outstanding Players in the West this year by each going for 30 or more points in the contest while leading the West all-stars past the East, 81-51.

Willems, who finished just ahead of Gradwell with 32 points, said this was a great opportunity to come out and showcase her talent for a final time in front of the NICL fans.

Article Photos

AGWSR senior Mandy Willems, left, and West Marshall senior Isabelle Gradwell are awarded the co-MVP trophy for West Division in the NICL Senior All-Star Game. Willems finished with 32 points for the West while Gradwell followed just behind with 30.
Photo by Thorn Compton

"I was looking forward to it for a while, it was really fun," Willems said.

Gradwell, who won the 3-point contest at halftime with by going 7-of-10 behind the arc, said she genuinely enjoyed playing with someone the talent of the Willems, especially since they got to play in a familiar 3-point heavy offense.

"I mean I kind of did that all year," Gradwell, the leading 3-point shooter in Class 3A, said. "It was fun, we got to play against Mandy all year as one of our toughest competitors so to play with her was really fun."

While Gradwell and Willems each did their thing, the other members of the West squad all got time to shine as well. There were only five players on the West, as Ally Finger from AGWSR, Emma Meyer from West Marshall and Megan Swanson from Gladbrook-Reinbeck rounded out the squad, but when each of their names were called they stepped up and made some plays.

"It was definitely fun playing with a bunch of girls you've competed against since you were in middle school or younger," Meyer said. "It was a lot of fun because we gelled really quickly for not playing together ever."

Willems said she even encouraged the other girls to shoot more, especially Swanson, who finally uncorked a few threes in the third quarter for makes to get herself rolling.

"We kept telling them to shoot the ball and Megan from G-R, she wouldn't shoot it," Willems said with a smile. "We just kept telling her she had to keep shooting!"

It wasn't just shooting the West girls were doing, but making. They finished the night with 17 hits from 3-point land, just three makes shy of the East's 20 total field goals. Mikayla McKenna from Hudson led the Eats with 15 points, while Lily Christensen from Columbus finished with 10.

At the end of the game, Willems and Gradwell were both named co-MVP for the West, sharing the top-player titles once again, and Gradwell said she couldn't think of anyone better to share that honor with.

"It was really nice and I am glad I got to share it with someone like Mandy, someone who definitely deserves it also," Gradwell said.

West 81, East 51

EAST (51) - Lily Christensen 4 1-2 10, Jenna Brandt 4 0-0 9, Krayton Allen 3 1-4 9, Aubrey Gronoski 2 0-0 6, Mikayla McKenna 6 3-4 15, Taelyn Jordon 1 0-0 2. TOTALS 20 6-12 51.

WEST (81) - Megan Swanson 2 0-0 6, Ally Finger 3 0-0 8, Mandy Willems 12 0-0 32, Isabelle Gradwell 12 1-2 30, Emma Meyer 2 1-2 5. TOTALS 31 2-4 81.

East 10 16 18 7 - 51

West 22 15 30 14 - 81

3-Point GoalsEast 8 (Christensen 3, Allen and Gronoski 2, Brandt), West 17 (Willems 8, Gradwell 5, Finger and Swanson 2). Total FoulsEast 3, West 9. Fouled Outnone.



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