Royal pains: Colo-NESCO’s 17-game win streak ends in 1A state quarterfinals

DES MOINES – Throughout the season, the Royals have proven they can keep pace with the fastest of foes.

Though against their quickest adversary yet, the seventh-ranked Colo-NESCO girls’ basketball team found itself in too much of a hurry at times Monday.

Rushing some shots and passes that turned into quick points for the Nikes, the Royals’ postseason run and 17-game win streak came to an end in a 60-43 Class 1A quarterfinal loss to fifth-ranked Notre Dame of Burlington at the Iowa Girls State Basketball Tournament in Wells Fargo Arena.

“We’re not seeing too many teams that are as quick as us and they were a little bit quicker overall,” said Colo-NESCO coach Wayne Cafferty, whose squad lost for the first time since Dec. 11. “They did a good job of defending and making it tough for us. We had to earn every possession.”

Notre Dame came up with 17 steals and forced 21 turnovers, while limiting the Royals to 16-of-65 from the field (24.6 percent) and 4-of-23 from beyond the arc.

The Royals (23-3) trailed by just two midway through the second quarter as Madison Farren started and finished a 9-2 run with a pair of baskets to pull Colo-NESCO within 21-19 with 4:27 to play in the half.

Riley Kilbride and Kori Mesecher countered with two layups in a 10-second span sparking a 16-4 surge for the Nikes (22-3). Taylor Hickey’s pair of 3s and a transition basket from Morgan Myers – all in the last minute – capped the flurry to give Notre Dame a 37-23 cushion at the half.

“We just had a couple mental lapses where we got a little loose with the ball,” said Cafferty.

Caitlyn Riese (14 rebounds) and Farren (12 rebounds) controlled the glass and combined for 12 offensive boards, though the Royals couldn’t cash in on the second chances.

“We were just rushing and trying to get a quick shot,” Riese said. “Setting it up and trying to get inside was a little bit harder to do.”

Haley Stoeffler tried to get the Royals’ outside attack going with a triple that inched the Royals within 39-28 early in the third, though Colo-NESCO missed 10 of its next 11 shots. Mesecher closed a 10-2 run for the Nikes with a steal and layup to stretch the margin to 49-30 entering the final frame.

Stoeffler hit two more 3-pointers in the fourth and led the Royals with 16 points, though the Nikes’ lead never dipped below 13.

“That was a good team,” Stoeffler said of Notre Dame. “They were fast and aggressive at the same time.”

Hickey led Notre Dame with 17 points, while Kilbride had 12 off the bench. The Royals held leading score Myers (15 ppg) to nine points on 4-of-17 shooting.

“We had a great season, we just ran into a team that was a little bit better than us,” Cafferty said. “They’ve got a chance to win the whole thing, so we’ll see how this turns out.

Farren tallied eight points for the Royals, while Riese had seven and Shayla Dean six. All three are back next year as Colo-NESCO returns four starters and a total of 10 players, which are a couple reasons why Madison Eley – one of three graduating seniors – believes the Royals will be back to Des Moines soon.

“They need to get in the gym and the weight room this summer,” Eley said.

“They can win this whole thing next year.”

The Nikes advance to play top-ranked Central Lyon (24-2) in a semifinal game Thursday at 10 a.m.

Notebook

Colo-NESCO hadn’t lost a game in nearly 11 weeks dating back to a 62-57 loss against Meskwaki in Colo Dec. 11. … Notre Dame entered the state tournament leading Class 1A in scoring (72.7 ppg), margin of victory (31.7), made 3-pointers (167) and free-throw percentage (70.3). … The Nikes won their three regional tournament games by an average margin of 44.7 points. … Madison Eley, Haley Stoeffler and Ashlyn Eley are the three graduating seniors on the squad. Cafferty reflected on the seniors and the season, saying, “It was an outstanding season and a fun group of kids. The seniors I had were a riot. They had so much fun laughing and giggling – and playing good, hard basketball. I’m going to miss them.”