Regina Races Past Mediapolis in Regional Final to Return to State Tournament for First Time Since 2018
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MUSCATINE – As the public address announcer at Muscatine High School congratulated Regina follow its regional final win over Mediapolis on Wednesday he used the nickname Running Regals.
An audible emphasis could be heard on the word ‘running’.
The nickname couldn’t have been more fitting on Wednesday.
Class 2A sixth-ranked Regina used a fast pace and a strong second half to race past No. 13 Mediapolis 61-53 in the Class 2A, Region 6 title game in Muscatine.
“Our transition offense has been our bread and butter all year and when teams have shut down for us it’s been harder for us,” Regina coach Mary Rogers said. “I thought tonight we ran like mad and I thought we wore them down and we just kept pushing, we just kept trying to push the tempo.”
Regina (20-4) got a team-high 20 points from sophomore Alli Clark and shot 64 percent from the field in the second half while returning to the state tournament for the first time since 2018.
Grace Gaarde had 13 of her 15 points in the second half as Regina outscored broke open a five-point game and Lily Simpson finished with 12 points and nine rebounds as the Regals won their fourth straight game.
Regina will face fourth-ranked Panorama (24-1) in a Class 2A quarterfinal on Tuesday at 8:30 p.m. at Wells Fargo Arena in Des Moines.
“This is awesome,” Simpson said. “I never expected it but this is what the dream was.”
Regina was intent to push the pace from the outset on Wednesday and Mediapolis (21-3) was up to the task early.
The Bulldogs employed some full-court pressure of their own and force five Regina turnovers in the second quarter.
Mediapolis used an 8-0 run to take a 21-16 lead after an 18-foot pull-up jumper by junior guard Payton Bush with 4:41 left in the opening half.
Regina answered and answered quickly.
As in fast-paced, up-tempo play, quickly.
Regina scored the final 10 points of the first half with Hope Simpson and Clark each getting transition layups to spark the 10-0 burst.
“I think it really helps when we get some momentum,” Clark said. “We were able to get momentum at the end of the half and that carried us.”
Regina continued to push the pace in the second half with Gaarde, Clark and Dillon pushing the ball up the court with every opportunity.
Gaarde hit a pair of 3-poitners in the opening 68 seconds of the third quarter to push the Regina lead to 32-22.
“When our team is all working well together it gives everyone a confidence boost,” Gaarde said. “Alli Dillon hit shots, Lily was doing great in the post, Alli Clark was leading fast breaks it just gave us all a little boost.”
The longer the game went the more the pace seemed to wear on Mediapolis.
Regina never trailed by less than eight in the second half and made 14-of-22 field goal attempts after halftime many of which came in transition.
“We knew we could out run them and out work them especially on this court,” Simpson said. “We knew that if we kept our pace up we could get some easy baskets and get a lead.”
Clark was excellent finishing 8-of-8 from the field including 2-of-2 from 3-point range.
“She was running the whole time, she was the one that had those spark plug moments,” Rogers said of Clark. “Defensively you can’t say enough about how good she is as a one-on-one defender.”
Defensively Regina put the clamps on Mediapolis all-stater Hallie Mohr, limiting her to 11 points and five rebounds on 2-of-7 shooting.
Bush hit five three-pointers and led the Bulldogs with 21 points.
“We just wanted to shut down their top players,” Clark said. “We felt like if we could shut them down we could get stops.”
Mediapolis 10 11 11 19 – 51
Regina 13 13 17 20 – 63
Regina (63) – Alli Dillon 2-3 0-0 5, Grace Gaarde 5-13 2-2 15, Morgan Miller 1-6 2-5 5, Alli Clark 8-8 2-5 20, Hope Simpson 2-3 2-2 6, Lily Simpson 5-12 2-2 12, Totals 23-45 10-16 63.
Mediapolis (51) – Payton Bush 8-17 0-0 21, Jaydon Wirt 1-1 0-0 3, Haley Steffener 2-3 0-1 4, Hanna Wagenbach 0-4 2-2 2, Hallie Mohr 2-7 6-8 11, Liz Lane 5-7 0-2 10, Totals 18-39 8-13 51.
Three-point field goals – ICR 7-18 (Dillon 1-2, Gaarde 3-8, Miller 1-5, Clark 2-2, H. Simpson 0-1), MED 7-15 (Bush 5-12, Luttenegger 1-1, Steffener 0-1, Mohr 1-1). Rebounds – ICR 23 (L. Simpson 9), MED 24 (Lane 6). Turnovers – ICR 9, MED 16. Total fouls – ICR 10, MED 18. Fouled out – None. Technical fouls – None.