Your Prep Sports
DES MOINES – An early double-digit deficit, a distinct height disadvantage and some late foul trouble.
West Branch nearly overcame came all of it in the Class 2A state semifinals on Friday.
“We kept coming back, we kept fighting,” West Branch senior Sasha Koenig said. “We battled.”
In the end second-ranked Dike-New Hartford was too tall of a task.
Dike-New Hartford (25-0) turned 21 offensive rebounds into 19 second chance points and held off a second-half charge from third-ranked West Branch in a 57-47 win at Wells Fargo Arena in Des Moines.
“They were able to block some shots and get rebounds, I don’t know if we’ve ever played a team that had as much size, as much length as they did,” West Branch senior Rylan Druecker said. “Grabbing those offensive rebounds obviously hurt us. That played a big factor in it for sure.”
West Branch trimmed a 12-point lead to one in the fourth quarter but could quite complete the comeback closing the season 21-2.
Dike-New Hartford finished with a 50-22 rebounding edge and scored 34 of its 57 points from inside the pain while advancing to the 2A title game against top-ranked Maquoketa Valley (25-0) on Saturday at 4 p.m.
“We had a definite height advantage with (Ellary) Knock and (Payton) Petersen and that is something we’ve been able to do all year long,” Dike-New Hartford coach Bruce Dall said. “They got into a little bit of foul trouble and we were able to capitalize a little bit on that.”
Dike-New Hartford used a 13-3 run that spanned just over five minutes in the second quarter to take a 25-13 lead and led 26-17 at the half.
West Branch shot 32 percent in the first half, committed eight of its 13 turnovers in the first two quarters and made 1-of-7 three-point attempts while falling into a nine-point defit.
But the Bears battled back.
“I’m just super proud of our kids, they got down 12 and they could have walked away but our kids battled back and had it to one at one point,” West Branch coach Jarod Tylee said. “I’m just super, super proud of our kids.”
West Branch cut the lead to three twice in the final minute of the first quarter.
A Druecker three-point cut the lead to 36-33 with 52 seconds left and a runner by Koenig 23 seconds later made it 38-35.
“That’s a game we went in knowing that we had a chance,” Koenig said. “We thought there was a great chance we could play tomorrow and it didn’t work out that way, they made shots and we didn’t make ours like we normally do but we still kept just going and going and going.”
West Branch trailed by one after Druecker drilled her third three-pointer of the game from the corner 17 seconds into the fourth quarter.
That was as close as the Bears would get.
“We never stopped fighting,” Druecker said. “No matter what we knew we could get back in the game if we played hard, pressured the ball, got turnovers and put it through the basket but we just didn’t do it enough times.”
On the ensuing Dike-New Hartford offensive possession following the Druecker triple Petersen grabbed an offensive rebound following a Sophia Hoffman miss and was fouled.
Petersen made the first free throw and missed the second but Hoffman grabbed the rebound.
Her put back attempt missed, was rebounded by Petersen who scored to push the lead back to 42-38.
“They built that lead early and our kids battled back in the third quarter,” Tylee said. “The difference in the game was rebounding.”
The put back by Petersen started 10-2 Dike-New Hartford run and West Branch never got the lead under four the rest of the way.
West Branch made one final push, cutting the lead to 51-47 on a Delaynie Luneckas layup with 2:23 left by Dike New Hartford answered with a Petersen layup on the other end.
Petersen, a 5-foot-10 freshman finished with a game-high 19 points and 16 rebounds while 5-foot-11 guard Paula Gonzalez had 16 points and eight rebounds.
Knock and Hoffmann each had 10 points and eight rebounds.
“They were getting tips on passes, tips on shots, they were getting rebounds we haven’t seen a team like that with three long girls that can play guard,” Koenig said. “They are very versatile and it caused some problems for us for sure.”
Druecker finished with 17 points on 7-of-9 shooting to lead West Branch while Koenig had 11 points and seven assists.
Luneckas had eight points and five rebounds and senior Taya Young had eight points and four boards.
“It’s a credit to our kids, they continue to fight and find ways to make plays or make shots,” Tylee said. “We had kids step up, Rylan really stepped up today and made some shots.”
West Branch 8 9 18 12 – 47
Dike-New Hartford 12 14 13 18 – 57
West Branch (47) – Lexie Peak 1-2 0-0 3, Sasha Koenig 4-16 2-2 11, Delaynie Luneckas 2-8 4-4 8, Rylan Druecker 7-9 0-0 17, Taya Young 3-10 2-4 8, Sadie Smith 0-3 0-0 0, Allie Laschanzky 0-1 0-0 0, Totals 17-49 8-10 47.
Dike-New Hartford (57) – Ellary Knock 4-11 2-5 10, Taylor Kvale 0-1 0-0 0, Paula Gonzalez 7-12 1-2 16, Payton Petersen 6-14 7-10 19, Sophia Hoffmann 2-8 6-11 10, Jadyn Petersen 0-1 0-0 0, Camille Landphair 1-3 0-0 2, Totals 20-50 16-28 57.
3-point field goals – WB 5-22 (Peak 1-2, Koenig 1-10, Drucker 3-5, Young 0-4, Laschanzky 0-1), DNH 1-11 (Knock 0-4, Kvale 0-1, Gonzalez 1-3, Hoffman 0-1, Landphair 0-2). Rebounds – WB 22 (Luneckas 5), DNH 50 (Petersen 16). Assists – WB 12 (Koenig 7), DNH 8 (Hoffman 3). Turnovers – WB 13, DNH 20. Total fouls – WB 17, DNH 12. Fouled out – WB (Koenig). Technical fouls – None.