DES MOINES - It wasn't the storybook ending the Colo-NESCO basketball team had hoped for. It was just a rough shooting night for the girls in blue and white.
But don't expect this to be the last state tournament appearance for these Royals, especially since only one starter - Madison Eley - graduates.
"We like to say we have six starters on this team," Colo-NESCO coach Wayne Cafferty said. "We lose three seniors. But we have several starters that will be back next year. This experience should help them."
T-R PHOTO BY ROSS THEDE
Sophomore point guard Shayla Dean (21) dribbles up court under duress from Nikes defender Courtney Coffin (14) in the first half of the 1A state quarterfinal showdown. Notre Dame won in its first-ever state tournament game, while the Royals were denied victory in the program’s third appearance in 5-on-5 action and seventh overall.
Eley was the team's leading scorer at 13.2 points per game. She will definitely be missed. But juniors Caitlyn Riese, Shelby Anthony and Madison Farren and sophomores Shayla Dean and Samantha Riese will all be back next year to prove that this wasn't a fluke.
The Riese sisters provide a big advantage inside against most Class 1A schools. Dean is one of the top point guards in the state and Farren gives the Royals a strong inside-outside game.
So the Royals will not be short on talent as they swing into next season.
"This was a fun group of kids to coach," said Cafferty, who guided the Royals to their seventh state berth. "We had a great season and this was a good team."
The Royals have a chance to be great again next year. The 17-game win streak was no fluke. It included two wins against Class 1A state-ranked Meskwaki Settlement School, and one over 2A state-ranked West Marshall.
"Hopefully we come back with a fire in our belly and want to do this again," Cafferty said. "We should have a chance to make another run."
Caitlyn Riese said the Royals learned a lot from this year's seniors - which also included Haley Stoeffler and Ashlyn Eley. She also said the experience of playing at Wells Fargo Arena should help if the team gets back to state next year.
"I am going to miss the seniors," Riese said. "Madison taught us so much, especially with how you have to come back after a serious injury. Anything is possible. We won't be as nervous next year. And we can get into a better rhythm."
The Royals will return more than 40 points per game and Caitlyn Riese, Samantha Riese and Farren averaged a combined 18 rebounds per contest. Dean was second in the state in steals this past season as well.
"If this group works hard, they'll do great things next year, too," Cafferty said.