Mohawks too much inside for Grundy Center, 53-48
MANCHESTER – Defense kept the Spartans’ interior game under wraps in the first half.
Foul trouble and missed shots stunted their progress in the second.
Combining the three proved too much to overcome for the Grundy Center girls basketball team, ending its pursuit of the school’s sixth state tournament berth.
Kelsey Tebbe scored a season-high 23 points and 13th-ranked Marquette Catholic limited Grundy Center’s inside game for a 53-48 victory in the Class 1A Region 3 final Monday.
“We didn’t do a very good job of trying to get the ball inside,” Grundy Center coach Al Jones said. “We were too far out with our offense and the kids waited, especially in the first half.”
Utilizing a 2-3 zone, the Mohawks made Sam Meyers (19.3 ppg) a priority and limited her to just two points in the first half and eight in the game. Marquette Catholic (16-6) doubled down on Meyers and frequently fronted her – making any kind of entry pass to Class 1A’s fifth-leading scorer nearly impossible.
“Every time that Sam was crossing, they were taking a girl from the backside and double teaming her,” Jones said. “We weren’t recognizing that quick enough. I commend (Marquette) for their defense they ran, but I don’t know how many layups that we missed point blank – you just can’t do that.”
Foul trouble was another thing the Spartans couldn’t afford.
Meyers got going quickly in the third quarter with her first field goal and a free throw, before picking up three fouls in less than 90 seconds, including her fourth at the 5:54 mark. With Meyers on the bench, the Mohawks stretched a three-point lead to 39-31 before the Spartan senior returned.
Sarah Lampe scored eight straight points for Marquette Catholic in the fourth and her putback gave the Mohawks their largest lead at 46-36 with just less than four minutes to play, before Grundy Center (20-4) rallied.
A 3-pointer from Jessica Ackerson and Katie Lindeman’s jumper reeled the Spartans back within 50-48 with 31 seconds to play, but Grundy Center couldn’t find the basket again as Marquette made 3-of-4 at the line to close it out and snap the Spartans’ 10-game win streak.
Riley Ackerman gave Grundy Center an early spark with 11 of her 16 points in the first quarter. Ackerman’s third 3 in the opening frame capped a 13-2 run, giving the Spartans’ their largest cushion at 16-9 late in the first. Danielle Bender countered with two quick buckets to end the quarter and the Mohawks retook the lead at 21-20 on back-to-back treys from Tebbe.
Heather Hook had 12 points for Grundy Center including its final six of the first half before fouling out late in the fourth. Lindeman added nine points for the Spartans who finished with a 20-4 record for the second year in a row.
“It’s a hard pill to take, not only for the kids, but as a coach,” Jones said of his team’s back-to-back 20-win seasons ending before the state tournament. “We had a great year. You can’t take that away from them.”
Lampe had 15 points for the Mohawks and Bender tallied 14.
Marquette Catholic advances to play Ar-We-Va (21-3) in a Class 1A state quarterfinal Monday at Wells Fargo Arena in Des Moines. Tip-off is set for 11:45 a.m.
Grundy Center’s last state meet appearance (2005) resulted in a Class 2A state championship victory over Tri-Center – the program’s first-ever state title in girls basketball. … The Spartans also earned a runner-up finish in 2004, losing to Underwood in the final. … Grundy Center has reached the state tournament five times (1934, 1935, 1988, 2004, 2005). … Marquette’s Sarah Lampe won the E. Wayne Cooley Award this season. The award, made by the Iowa Girls Athletic Union, recognizes both athletic and academic skills.