Mustang girls run past #1-ranked Dunkerton 81-62; hoping third championship appearance will be the charm
The Dunkerton Raiders have won 82 games over the last four years.
They put up a state-best 83 points a game, thanks to senior dynamo Kayla Waskow and a frenetic, full-court pressure trapping defense aimed at forcing 40 turnovers an outing. They shoot three times a minute and sub five players at a time nearly every minute, like line changes in hockey.
They came into Wells Fargo Arena undefeated and ranked No. 1 in 1A.
Enough. About. Dunkerton.
If Wednesday night was any indication, this tournament belongs to Newell-Fonda.
Four Mustangs once again cracked double-digit scoring, led by Lauren Devereaux's 17 points, and unranked Newell-Fonda stunned top-ranked Dunkerton 81-62 in state semifinal action at the Well.
The Mustangs (23-3) will take their third crack at a state championship tomorrow at 6 p.m. against No. 6 Springville (24-3) after losing title games in 1997 and 2000.
"It's always been my dream," said junior guard Rachel Culp.
There were 77 field goal attempts and 33 turnovers in the first half alone in a wild, fast-paced affair that played to the advantage of N-F and its trademark sagging man-to-man.
"We all like to run," said Culp.
"They're a very, very good ballclub. It just happened that two teams are good at the same things, and on this night we were just a little bit better," said Mustangs coach Dick Jungers.
Springville pulled off an upset of its own Wednesday, beating No. 2 Lawton-Bronson 60-45.
Last week Susan Kies said the Mustangs weren't just in the tournament to gain experience for next year; they were in it to win it. Her confidence remains high.
"I'm not too nervous yet; I probably won't be," she said after dropping 16 points, eight rebounds and four assists on the Raiders. "We're just hoping to come out as a team and get the job done."
The Mustangs were the ones forcing turnovers - Dunkerton finished with 30 while making the mistake of putting N-F at the line 26 times.
Newell-Fonda obliged, hitting 21 of those 26 attempts.
"At our walkthrough today we played 7-up (a free throw game), and we've never done that before. And I don't know - tonight we hit our free throws, and it hasn't happened like that this season yet," said Culp. "That was the biggest part, especially early in the game to jump ahead, it helped a lot."
N-F raced to a 19-10 lead on a bucket by Devereaux with 1:52 left in the first frame. The Raiders closed to within 19-18 at the end of the period, but N-F rallied again, leading 45-38 at intermission.
The Mustangs trailed on two occasions of the second quarter, but following a Sarah Waskow bucket at 1:06 that cut the lead to 39-38, Alisa Christensen hit two free throws, Kies drove to the middle for a basket and Becky Seivert added two free throws of her own to give N-F its seven-point cushion.
Seven points was as close as Dunkerton would come to N-F in the second half.
"We definitely came out and played as a team, and the second half really did it for us... we were definitely driving the lane more," said Kies. "We just thought we needed to come out fast and uptempo. That's our thing, and we definitely had it in our favor today."
Katelyn Laursen had 14 points and Christensen 11 for N-F. Karina Overgaard added seven rebounds and six steals. Seivert also brought down seven boards.
The Raiders finished the season 25-1.
Waskow, a 5-foot-10 guard who averaged 24 points, gave them 24 points, eight rebounds, six assists, five steals, three blocks and a purple heart in 22 minutes.
She was the only Raider to score in double figures.
"I think they were really aggressive - I mean, we knew they were going to be, but we were a little bit frazzled," Waskow said.
We didn't handle the pressure really well at times and dug ourselves a hole, and at the state tournament you're playing good teams and it's really hard to get out of," she said. "I think we still have to be proud of what we accomplished."
NEWELL-FONDA STATS-Susan Kies 6-16 4-6 16, Karina Overgaard 1-3 2-2 4, Katelyn Laursen 5-12 3-4 14, Rachel Culp 2-6 0-0 4, Lauren Devereaux 7-12 2-2 17, Ellen Gruntorad 2-10 0-0 4, Alisa Christensen 2-11 7-7 11, Katie Kaufman 1-3 1-2 3, Becky Seivert 3-4 2-3 8. Totals 29-77 21-26 81. 3-point goals (2-13): Laursen, Devereaux. Turnovers: Dunk 30, NF 22. Total fouls: Dunk 21, NF 21. Rebounds: NF 52, Dunk 49.