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Tuesday, February 19, 2008

Mustangs shock No. 4 Ar-We-Va with late rally, punch first state ticket since 2003

DENISON - Substate basketball games don't get much tighter than this.

And for Newell-Fonda's girls, they won't get much more memorable.

Susan Kies grabbed a steal and went coast-to-coast for a layup with under half a minute to go, Ar-We-Va's Cokie Quandt missed the back end of a 1-and-1 with 2.8 seconds left, and unranked Newell-Fonda overcame a seven-point fourth-quarter deficit to beat No. 4 Ar-We-Va 62-61 here Monday night in a 1A Region 2 final, making their sixth state tournament appearance in program history.

It will be the Mustangs' first visit to Wells Fargo Arena; they qualified for the tourney at Veterans Auditorium in the 2002-03 season, head coach Dick Jungers' first year with the club.

"This game is as good as a high school basketball game gets. Both teams fought and fought and we made some huge defensive plays down the stretch to pull out a late victory," Jungers said. "We led at only two junctures in the entire game and fortunately for us we picked the end of the game to get one of them. I am so proud of our girls for their phenomenal effort and their never say die attitude.

"We played a great game."

The Mustangs (21-3) have placed as high as second in 1A twice. They were runners-up in 2000 (a 51-37 Preston victory) and 1997 (a 51-49 Lynnville-Sully win). Their other trips to the Barn came in 1995 and '96.

Kies drained three treys and led all scorers with 27 points.

The Rockets, who curtain-called 22-2, got 16 points from Jen Stoelk.

Newell-Fonda will play the first game of this year's four-class state tournament, facing off against No. 5 Southeast Webster-Grand and senior dynamo Jennifer Jorgensen, the state's leading scorer in all classes at 30 points per game, Monday, Feb. 25 at 10 a.m.

SEW-Grand beat Martensdale St. Mary's 68-57 Monday night.

If N-F beats the Eagles, it would face either WCLT, or No. 1 Dunkerton or GMG in the semifinal Feb. 27 at 6:30 p.m.

WCLT beat No. 12 North Sentral Kossuth to punch its ticket, while the Dunkerton-GMG regional final was postponed till tonight due to road conditions.

In the bottom half of the bracket, No. 10 Exira and No. 2 Lawton-Bronson face off in the third game of the 1A slate next Monday.

Exira throttled No. 9 Bedford 69-46. L-B cruised by No. 11 Woodbury Central 66-49.

In the final game next Monday, No. 6 Springville or Olin (their regional final has also been postponed till tonight) will meet No. 3 Holy Trinity Catholic. HTC topped No. 7 New London 51-49 Monday.

Newell-Fonda, which was 9-of-16 from the foul line, got eight points from Alisa Christensen; six from Katelyn Laursen; five from Karina Overgaard; four from Lauren Devereaux and Rachel Culp; three apiece from Becky Seivert and Ellen Gruntorad; and two from Katie Kaufman.

Overgaard also brought down seven rebounds.

Kies scored the Mustangs' first seven points, giving them an early 7-4 lead, but the Rockets led 13-9 after one quarter.

Ar-We-Va's Erica Luetje nailed a 3 to put the Rockets up 18-9 early in the second frame.

The Mustangs rallied, though, tying the game at 30-all going into the locker room.

Overgaard opened the third stanza with an inside basket but Ar-We-Va scored the next seven points.

Kies would go on to hit a pair of 3s in that quarter, and the Mustangs trailed just 52-48 going into the fourth after she drained a pair of free throws.

A Luetje 3-ball made it 55-48 Ar-We-Va before Jungers called timeout at 6:30.

N-F's Devereaux scored later in the period to cut the lead to 55-54.

Kies tied the game at 58-58 with a layup with just under 2:30 to go. Ar-We-Va hit 1-of-2 free throws twice to retake the lead, 60-58, but Kies laid one off the glass and it was 60-60 as Ar-We-Va called timeout with 46 seconds left.

That led to Kies getting her eventual game-winning steal and layup.

Her team up 62-60, Overgaard boarded an ensuing Rocket miss, but Ar-We-Va got a steal, and drew a foul on Christensen with 2.8 seconds left.

Quandt, a 55 percent foul shooter, held true to her average after making the front end of the 1-and-1. The Rockets fouled N-F with 0.6 ticks left, but the Mustangs inbounded the ball and time ran out, sending them to their first state tournament since 2003.

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