By Susan Harman
Your Prep Sports
IOWA CITY – Alexa Lehman looked like she’d been hit by a truck after leaping high to break up a pass only to be upended and sent flying. She smacked her head on the court and was woozy right before the 2A regional semifinal at Regina went to halftime.
So, if you concluded she was the player least likely to save the day for the No. 1-ranked Regina girls basketball team when it was on the ropes, you’d be right there with 99 percent of the fans in attendance.
And you’d be wrong. Very wrong.
After hard-charging Maquoketa Valley cut the Regals’ lead to three points in the fourth quarter it was Lehman’s 3-pointer that saved the day in Regina’s 80-67 victory.
Regina (24-0) plays Bellevue (17-6) at 7 p.m. Monday at Tipton for a berth in the 2A state tournament. Regina beat Bellevue 63-50 in the regular season.
Fourteenth-ranked Maquoketa Valley finished 19-5.
Regina led by as many as 19 points in the first half and by 17 early in the third quarter. Yet the game was competitive throughout. The Wildcats fielded an athletic team with good size and strength and never backed down even in the face of Regina’s frantic pressing defense.
Maquoketa Valley shut down Regina’s 3-point shooting and used aggressive dribble penetration to make its move in the second half. A three by Sam Wall with 5:33 left in the game brought the Wildcats within 59-56. That’s when Lehman answered with her second three of the game and only her 10th of the season.
“They were playing off me, and I was open,” she said. “I’ve been practicing that shot a lot and wanted to help my team, so I took it and I didn’t regret it.”
Needless to say.
Lehman, a junior reserve, said she felt better at halftime after her spill.
“I hit the ground and everything went black for a second,” Lehman said. “I felt nauseous and tried to get up. I had to be strong for my team.”
Her three was the first of four consecutive scoring possessions midway through the fourth quarter that helped stave off the Wildcat rally. After Alexa’s three, Sarah Lehman sank a jumper from the elbow for a 64-56 lead. Maquoketa Valley answered with a layup, but Kennedy Wallace sank a 3-pointer and Mary Crompton followed with two free throws in the following possession.
“We know we can make (shots), so it’s just having the guts to knock it down,” Wallace said. “We knew they were coming back, and we had to do something about it. We knew we were capable of it. We told each other, ‘We have to go; we have to go.’”
“The pressure was definitely on, but I’m confident in my team. I think we did well against it,” Alexa Lehman said. “I think this is really going to help us going forward.”
“They’re a really good team and it was a lot of fun, but I think we were really on tonight,” Sarah Lehman said.
Regina shot a higher percentage, and its 3-point shooting (9-of-21) was a key. Both teams were impressive from the free-throw line. Regina did very well down the stretch from the line, while the Wildcats were 21-of-24 overall. Regina’s press and 3-point shooting combined to build the big lead, but the Wildcats never wilted. Yet the Regals survived their toughest test of the season.
“These kids are winners,” Regina coach Jeff Wallace said. “They’ve been in a lot of big games in basketball and other sports, so I wasn’t concerned about it. They showed great composure tonight when Maq Valley was coming right at us, and I’m just so proud of how they fought through adversity.”
Maquoketa Valley (67) – Sam Wall 4-15 6-6 15, Brianna Mensen 3-9 5-6 12, Macy Hoeger 0-0 1-2 1, Payton Ries 4-7 6-6 14, Gracie Gellersen 3-6 0-0 8, Maci Freiburger 5-8 2-2 12, Abby Holtz 0-0 0-0 0, Caitlin Schuman 0-0 1-2 1, Olivia Hoeger 0-0 0-0 0. Totals 19-45 21 24.
Regina (80) – Mary Crompton 4-10 8-8 19, Sarah Lehman 6-8 7-8 19, Greyson Dumont 1-5 0-0 3, Kennedy Wallace 4-7 0-0 10, Alex Wiese 7-12 5-6 20, Alexa Lehman 2-3 0-0 6, Lauren Gaarde 1-1 0-2 2, Katie Dunn 0-0 0-0 0, Megan Wick 0-0 1-2 1. Totals 25-46 21-26.
Maquoketa Valley 14 14 21 18 – 67
Regina 27 16 12 25 – 80
3-point goals – Maquoketa Valley 4-13 (Wall 1-6, Mensen 1-3, Gellersen 2-4), Regina 9-21 (Crompton 3-6, S.Lehman 0-1, Dumont 1-4, Wallace 2-5, Wiese 1-3, A. Lehman 2-2). Total fouls: Maquoketa Valley 18, Regina 22. Fouled out: none.