Royals exact revenge to gain division title

MESKWAKI SETTLEMENT – Shayla Dean’s been knocked down many times.

But she always gets back up.

After taking an elbow to the eye in the first quarter and getting the wind knocked out of her in the third, Dean got back up – and came through with the game-winning play for the Royals.

Swiping a steal and taking it in for the go-ahead score, Dean helped the Class 1A No. 9 ranked Colo-NESCO girls’ basketball team edge eighth-ranked Meskwaki 69-67 on Tuesday night.

“She is tough,” Colo-NESCO coach Wayne Cafferty said of his scrappy sophomore guard.

“It happens every game where she gets hit hard. She’s small so its takes her a little while to rebound from it but, give her a couple minutes and she comes right back. She’s just a tremendous competitor.”

The victory clinched the Iowa Star Conference championship for the Royals (20-2, 15-1) as they fended off a late Meskwaki charge led by Dia Keahna’s game-high 30 points, while Tiana Thompson added 19.

Dean put Colo-NESCO in front 66-65 with a pair of free throws and a minute to play, though Thompson answered with two for the Warriors. Thompson later missed the front end of a one-and-one and the Royals came up empty on their next possession before Dean’s key play provided the go-ahead score with less than 10 seconds to play.

The Royals’ defensive pressure forced Thompson out of bounds on the next play before Madison Farren made 1-of-2 at the line for the final margin.

Caitlyn Riese led the Royals with 18 points and 11 rebounds, scoring 14 in the second half.

“We felt we our biggest advantage was inside,” said Cafferty, referring to his inside tandem of Riese and Madison Eley, who combined for 33 points in the Royals previous meeting with the Warriors.

“We missed some opportunities to get it inside in the first half. We didn’t execute getting it in there too much in the second half, but we got it in there enough. Caitlyn made a couple big plays down the stretch for us.”

While their post game didn’t pan out early, the Royals received a boost outside as Haley Stoeffler buried a trey and had seven points during Colo-NESCO’s 15-2 flurry in the second quarter. Farren capped the run with a 3-point play as the visitors held a 29-15 advantage midway through the second quarter.

Keahna answered with three consecutive treys to highlight an 11-3 spurt for the Warriors and brought Meskwaki within 34-31 with another trey to open the third. Keahna came out of the game briefly with an apparent injury before Thompson took over with the next four baskets for the Warriors including a trey to knot the score at 48 before Keahna returned.

Thompson hit another shot just inside the arc to give Meskwaki its first lead of the game at 52-50 with 7:30 to play. Neither team led by more than three the rest of the way as the lead changed hands seven times in the final frame.

“All these years Tiana has been the one to bring us back and she tried again tonight,” Meskwaki coach Heath Brown said.

“We just came up a little bit short.”

Eley tallied 15 points, eight rebounds and six assists for the Royals, while Stoeffler added 14 points and Dean had 10 points, four assists and four steals. Farren chipped in six points and six boards.

Jaden Davenport provided Meskwaki with a presence in the paint scoring 10 points before fouling out in the closing minutes. Shania Kapayou added six points as the Warriors (18-4, 14-2) tied with Janesville for second in the league.

Both the Royals and Warriors have earned first round byes and will host Class 1A Region 5 games Tuesday at 7 p.m. The Royals face the winner of Ankeny Christian vs Lynville-Sully, while the Warriors entertain the victor of English Valleys vs. HLV.