Originally published by The Ottumwa Courier on Jan. 12, 2022. Article by Scott Jackson.

Jan. 12—EDDYVILLE — Even when the Albia Lady Dees got a look at the basket on Tuesday night, there seemed to be a hand ready to swat a shot away.

More often than not, that hand belonged to Whitney Klyn. Three more blocks made the Eddyville-Blakesburg-Fremont junior the first South Central Conference girls basketball player to record 50 rejections so far this season.

It was just part of a dominant defensive effort for the Rockets, who shut out Albia in the first quarter and never looked back winning 70-23 to stay right in the thick of the SCC championship race. EBF bounced back from a 54-44 loss on Friday at Centerville in a battle for the outright conference lead, staying on pace to battle for at least a share of the conference title when the Redettes visit the Rockets on Feb. 1.

"We've definitely struggled on defense this year. That start really helped boost our confidence," Klyn said. "We definitely wanted to keep going because this is a big conference game. We wanted to make a statement coming off Friday night. Having the chance to take the conference lead and losing out on that opportunity definitely motivated us to get back to work and give ourselves another chance at it."

The Rockets (10-3, 5-2 SCC) stymied the Lady Dees right from the start, forcing Albia into 13 turnovers and 16 missed shots from the field. Nine steals and six blocks highlighted the 19-0 start to the game for EBF.

"We wanted to come out and be aggressive on both ends of the court," EBF head girls basketball coach Tony Fenton said. "We came out that way earlier in the year that way. I thought, lately, we've been coming out flat. We were tired on Friday against Centerville playing our third game of the week. We're just trying to take it one game at a time."

Albia, meanwhile, struggled to adjust after having to go into Tuesday's game suddenly short-handed. Sophie Waber, the team's top scorer, was one of the players that was unable to make the trip to Eddyville.

"Missing the general that you're used to having out on the court threw us off," Albia head girls basketball coach Katy Dykes said. "EBF's size, their length and their aggressiveness also played a big factor in it. They jumped at everything and we did not adjust very well."

Several different Rocket players stepped up on both ends of the court. Molly Shafer would finish the night leading EBF with 22 points and eight of the 26 steals collected by the Rockets during the contest.

Ava Eastlick added 16 points, sinking 4-10 shots from 3-point territory. Klyn scored 13 points and blocked three shots after swatting away six shots Friday at Centerville.

"It's just been a matter of getting my timing down so I don't foul," said Klyn, the SCC's current shot-blocking leader. "You can definitely tell it frustrates the other team when you work so hard to get the ball to the basket only to have the shot knocked away. I think, for us, it made us play that much harder."

Avery Major led Albia with 10 points on Tuesday. Maia Paxton added eight points and matched Juliana Brown with a team-leading three steals.

Albia (2-10, 0-6 SCC) hosts Chariton on Saturday while EBF hosts Davis County on Friday in SCC action. The Rockets remain one game behind Centerville in the conference standings after the Redettes earned a 52-31 win over Davis County on Tuesday.

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 Scott Jackson can be reached at sjackson@ottumwacourier.com. Follow him on Twitter@CourierScott.