Fifth-ranked Regina Rallies Past Mediapolis in Regional Final to Return to State for Second Straight Season
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MUSCATINE – Trailing by 13 points midway through the third quarter Grace Gaarde and her Regina teammates had to make a choice.
Battle back or pack it in.
“We were in a little bit of a rut and we knew that we had to decide if we wanted it or not and we had to decide what we were going to do to get there,” Gaarde said. “We had to decide if we were going to play hard and pick it up or if we were just o.k. with settling.”
Gaarde and the Regals opted to fight on Thursday night.
Next week the Regals will be packing for a trip to state.
Regina rallied from a 13-point second-half deficit to force overtime and scored the final four points of the extra session to win a 55-54 thriller over No. 12 Mediapolis in the Class 2A, Region 6 title game at Muscatine High School.
“They just fought,” Regina coach Mary Rogers said. “I thought at half I could see it in their eyes that they didn’t want to be done. I mean that. They just competed, they just didn’t want to be done yet.”
Alli Clark gave Regina the lead with a driving layup with 1:09 remaining in overtime and the Regals survived a last-second shot from Mediapolis senior Liz Lane that rolled off to return to the 2A state tournament for the second consecutive season.
Regina (21-4) will learn its state tournament draw on Friday evening after the final two Class 2A regional finals are completed.
Mediapolis closed the season 20-4, the third consecutive season Mediapolis has had its season end with a loss to Regina and the second consecutive loss to the Regals in a regional final.
“It’s amazing just to know that we got there as a team,” Gaarde said. “We worked hard to get back and we earned it, our team was amazing this year and I couldn’t be more proud of them.”
Last season Regina controlled the game from the outset in a 12-point regional final win over the Bulldogs in the same gymnasium.
It was different from the outset on Thursday.
Regina led 19-14 after a transition layup from Gaarde with 6:13 remaining in the first half.
Mediapolis responded with a 14-2 run to close the half with post players Hanna Wagenbach and Lane accounting for 10 of the 12 points.
“Credit to them to just beat it inside and beat it inside,” Rogers said. “We just had to fight and grind it out and find a way.”
Mediapolis pushed the lead to 13 on three separate occasions in the third quarter, the final time coming on a lane bucket with 4:05 remaining.
Regina answered with a 9-2 run to close the quarter to cut the lead to 41-35.
“We were down seven in the locker room and we knew we had it, we had to play our game,” Regina sophomore Morgan Miller said. “When you are down 13 you have a little panic but I think we did a really good job of staying focused.”
Mediapolis led 47-43 with under three minutes to play but Regina scored the next six points on consecutive 3-pointers by sophomore Ella McLaughlin and Gaarde.
The Gaarde 3-pointer with 2:08 remaining gave Regina its first lead since the second quarter.
“Our kids never gave up and never quit,” Rogers said. “I am shaking because I am just so proud of their effort.”
A Wagenbach jumper in the lane tied the game at 49 with :26 and Clark’s potential game-winning jumper on the ensuing possession hit the side of the backboard.
Mediapolis appeared to take control in overtime, scoring five unanswered points to take a 54-51 lead.
Regina had the final run.
A 17-foot jumper by Miller cut the lead to 54-53 and Clark gave Regina the lead for good with her driving layup with 1:09 remaining.
“When we got to overtime we knew we had already battled back so we said ‘we can’t stop now’,” Clark said. “We just had to run our offense to get better looks.”
Mediapolis had a chance to win the game but Lane’s jumper in the lane rolled off the back rim as time expired.
“I was just hoping it wasn’t going to go in,” Miller said. “They had run that play a few times, I knew it was going to her, we have such good defenders on our team I knew we could get it done. I was just hoping it wasn’t going in.”
Wagenbach had 21 points and 10 rebounds and Lane finished with 19 points and seven boards for the Bulldogs.
Clark led three Regina players in double figures with 16 points while Gaarde had 14 and Dani Laughlin had 10.
Miller had eight points and McLaughlin 7 for the Regals.
“It was really important to get contributions from every one,” Gaarde said. “Morgan and Alli were amazing but our whole team really stepped up and was ready to fight for this to get to where we wanted to be.”
Mediapolis 14 14 13 8 5 – 54
Regina 15 6 14 14 6 – 55
Mediapolis (54) – Payton Bush 0-9 0-0 0, Jaydon Wirt 0-1 0-0 0, Lilly Luttenegger 1-1 0-0 3, Haley Steffener 2-5 0-0 5, Grace Holsteen 2-2 2-2 6, Payton Anderson 0-1 0-0 0, Hanna Wagenbach 10-18 1-1 21, Liz Lane 8-12 3-3 19, Totals 23-49 6-6 54.
Regina (55) – Alli Clark 5-15 6-10 16, Grace Gaarde 5-11 1-3 14, Dani Laughlin 2-7 4-4 10, Ella McLaughlin 3-9 1-3 7, Morgan Miller 3-11 0-1 8, Morgan Squiers 0-3 0-0 0, Totals 18-56 12-21 55.
3-point field goals – ICR 7-25 (Clark 0-2, Gaarde 3-7, Laughlin 2-6, McLaughlin 0-2, Miller 2-6, Squiers 0-2), MED 2-12 (Bush 0-7, Wirt 0-1, Luttenegger 1-1, Steffener 1-3). Rebounds – ICR 30 (Clark 8), MED 40 (Wagenbach 10). Turnovers – ICR 8, MED 16. Total fouls – ICR 13, MED 12. Fouled out – None. Technical fouls – None.