Underdogs no more

Fifth-seeded Grundy Center knocks off top-seeded Treynor to reach 2A championship game

T-R PHOTO BY ROSS THEDE • Grundy Center junior Kylie Willis (35) jumps into the air while her teammates (from left) Brittany Burroughs, Sarah Lindeman, Cora Saak and Leslie Homeister share in the celebration of the Spartans’ 42-39 victory over Treynor in the Class 2A state semifinal game Friday at Wells Fargo Arena in Des Moines.

DES MOINES — It was a familiar feeling for Grundy Center fans on Friday in the Class 2A semifinal matchup against Treynor in the Iowa Girls’ High School State Basketball Tournament.

Just like on Tuesday night, the Spartans held on to a one-possession lead with just seconds left on the clock and all that stood between them and a trip to the 2A finals was one more strong defensive stand.

Unlike the quarterfinal game against Iowa City Regina, however, Grundy Center had a three-point lead over the Cardinals, thanks to Brooke Flater sinking the back-end of a trip to the free-throw line, so all the Spartans had to do was not allow a Treynor shot from deep.

The Cardinals did get up a shot, and one by Konnor Sudmann who had scored 12 points in the fourth quarter, but the ball never touched the rim and Grundy Center brought down the rebound as time expired.

At first it seemed that the Spartans didn’t quite realize they had just won the game by a 42-39 margin, but once it set in the girls erupted in celebration.

T-R PHOTO BY THORN COMPTON • The Grundy Center girls’ basketball team acknowledges their fans after beating Treynor in Friday’s Class 2A state semifinal game at Wells Fargo Arena in Des Moines. The Spartans meet Cascade in today’s 5 p.m. championship game.

“Words can’t describe it, all I get is goosebumps every time I think about making it to the state championship game,” Grundy Center junior Kylie Willis said after the win. “It still hasn’t really set in with me, but I am so beyond proud of this team. We have worked our butts off in this offseason and our dreams are finally coming true.”

For a while it seemed the Spartans were going to run away and hide from Treynor when Hailey Wallis stepped up and splashed a 3-pointer to start off the third quarter, giving Grundy Center its biggest lead of the game at 22-13.

The Cardinals wouldn’t go down that easily though, as the No. 2 team in 2A made a huge 13-2 run to take a 26-24 lead after the third quarter. That was the first time in seven quarters of state tournament play that the Spartans had finished behind in the count, so getting off to a good start in the fourth was paramount for Grundy Center’s success.

And boy did the Spartans deliver on that, as Flater made a basket to tie things up less than 30 seconds into the final frame and Wallis stole the ensuing inbounds pass, causing Treynor’s Madelyn Deitchler to pick up her fourth foul.

Flater said head coach Matt Lindeman delivered a reassuring message before the start of the fourth quarter that reminded his squad that this was still their game to lose.

T-R PHOTO BY THORN COMPTON

“Coach just talked to us and told us we’ve got this, we just have to keep good thoughts in our head,” Flater said. “We can finish this game, we can do it, we are the underdogs and we have nothing to lose.”

Treynor would actually retake the lead at 32-30 with 5:30 left in the game, but Willis got to the line and tied things up at 32, sparking a 7-1 run for the Spartans. Willis got another chance to extend the team’s lead when they were up 37-36 after a Sudmann three for Treynor, as the junior post got loose on a fast break with nothing between her and the basket but Deitchler.

As their bodies crashed together, Willis said she just closed her eyes and hoped the whistle wasn’t against her.

“I saw the basket and I am thinking ‘take it, take it, take it, go for the layup,’ then I see she was right there and think ‘oh hopefully this isn’t a charge, hopefully it’s not a charge,'” Willis said. “Then they called a block and she fouled out, so I think ‘I need to put these free throws in.'”

Willis stepped to the line with a chance to give her team a big 3-point lead with time running down and the Cardinals’ leading scorer now out on fouls, but that’s a big situation for a girl playing in her first semifinal.

T-R PHOTO BY ROSS THEDE

“My legs are shaking, they were both short, but I felt the second one go short and I got the rebound,” Willis said. “Next time I went up [to the line] I think ‘use your legs, use your legs, calm down, think about you and the basket. Put these in.’ And that’s what I did.”

After sinking the second set of free throws the Spartans took a 39-36 lead, one that the Cardinals never overcame.

Lindeman said his girls showed some amazing heart in this win, and they brought to the court exactly what they had practiced leading up to the game.

“The credit goes to the girls, they just executed the plan. Through adversity thrown at us at different times they continued to just rise above it,” Lindeman said. “Sydney [Mathews] and Maddie [McMartin] what they did, Cora [Saak] coming in, Brooke and Kylie, Sarah [Lindeman], all of them down in there. And obviously Hailey playing for 32 minutes, not coming out, I am just really proud of the girls.”

Not only did Wallis not come off the court, she was easily the best player on it the entire 32 minutes. She finished with a game-high 18 points, just one game removed from only eight points in the quarterfinals, and she had six rebounds and three steals in the win.

T-R PHOTO BY ROSS THEDE

Wallis said after having such a tough time shooting against Regina, where she finished 1-for-5 form three, her shot was much better on Friday morning, leading to her 3-for-5 clip from deep.

“I felt really good, I just wanted to really focus on my shooting this game and get my stroke back and I think I did a pretty good job of that,” Wallis said.

No other Spartan finished in double figures, but every girl who played contributed in some important fashion. Sarah Lindeman was actually the second-leading scorer with seven points off the bench, and the Grundy Center bench outscored Treynor’s by a 10-0 margin.

“We know that we have the depth on the bench to be able to do that and whenever we come in the starters don’t worry about us,” Sarah said of her contributions. “We just do our thing and we trust each other and they all trust us so it all works out.”

The bench got a little more work than normal in fact, as Flater dealt with foul issues through most of the game. When she was in, however, Flater made her presence known, hauling in a game-high nine rebounds and putting in five points in just 21 minutes of action.

T-R PHOTO BY THORN COMPTON

“The plan was to just get in there and play as hard as I can because you never know when it’s going to be your last,” Flater said. “I knew I had to go out there and, since I was in foul trouble I couldn’t be too aggressive, I had to be smart. I had to go out there and try my hardest, get the rebound and pass the ball and move it around.”

Flater and Willis had the tough task of dealing with Deitchler, who averaged 18 points and eight rebounds heading into the contest. While Flater specifically picked up a few too many fouls, they held the stellar Cardinal to just three points and six rebounds while forcing her to foul out in the fourth.

Coach Lindeman said what really caused Deitchler problems was how his girls played to front her, rather than let her gain possession easily.

“We knew we couldn’t play behind her, everybody we had seen and in all the tape everybody played behind her and she is just too good and too powerful,” Lindeman said. “It wasn’t a new scheme by any means, we have done it before, and the girls bought into it. They know what we want to do and they went out and executed it.”

While Deitchler couldn’t get going, Kayla Chapman and Sudmann each found their rhythm in the second half, finishing with 14 and 16 points respectively. Even when Chapman and Sudmann made their shots, the Spartans seemed to always have an answer, something Lindeman said was incredible to see.

“I am just really proud of how we responded on all of that. We were up nine and they come back to tie it and make their run, but we always had an answer,” he said. “They shoot that three with not much time left, Hailey comes down and hits some free throws. We always had an answer, Brooke going 1-for-2 from the line put us up three and that let us know defensively what we needed to do to keep them from scoring.”

This will be the first time Grundy Center has played in the state championship game since making back-to-back title games in 2004 and 2005, winning the whole thing over 2005 over Tri-Center.

Waiting for the Spartans will be Cascade, the No. 6 team in 2A who beat No. 10 North Union in a triple-overtime thriller in the semifinals. Wallis said the team is still in celebration mode, but once they settle down it will be time to work on bringing home the second title in program history.

“Right now we are just kind of soaking it in and enjoying the moment, but tomorrow it’s going to be game time. We want to win it, we want to get those light pink shirts,” she said.

The Class 2A championship of the Iowa Girls’ High School State Basketball Tournament between Grundy Center and Cascade will tip off at 5 p.m. tonight at Wells Fargo Arena.

Iowa High School Girls’ State Basketball Tournament

At Wells Fargo Arena, Des Moines

CLASS 5A

Quarterfinals

Monday, Feb. 26

Johnston 73, Waukee 48

Iowa City High 78, Valley 62

Iowa City West 63, Dowling Catholic 53, OT

Indianola 64, Cedar Falls 63

Semifinals

Thursday, March 1

Iowa City High 58, Johnston 52

Iowa City West 58, Indianola 45

Championship

Friday, March 2

Iowa City West 56, Iowa City High 45

CLASS 4A

Quarterfinals

Monday, Feb. 26

Center Point-Urbana 69, Boone 47

Marion 71, Fairfield 39

Grinnell 70, Mason City 51

Tuesday, Feb. 27

Le Mars 52, Lewis Central 43

Semifinals

Thursday, March 1

Marion 56, Center Point-Urbana 46

Grinnell 68, Le Mars 47

Championship

Friday, March 2

Marion 69, Grinnell 48

CLASS 3A

Quarterfinals

Tuesday, Feb. 27

Crestwood 66, South Tama County 28

North Polk 64, Davenport Assumption 47

Monticello 61, Clear Lake 50

Sioux Center 76, Red Oak 60

Semifinals

Thursday, March 1

Crestwood 72, North Polk 48

Sioux Center 65, Monticello 57

Championship

Saturday, March 3

Crestwood (25-0) vs. Sioux Center (24-2), 3 p.m.

CLASS 2A

Quarterfinals

Tuesday, Feb. 27

Treynor 54, West Sioux 30

Grundy Center 46, Iowa City Regina 45

Wednesday, Feb. 28

Cascade 61, Dike-New Hartford 44

North Union 47, Panorama 46

Semifinals

Friday, March 2

Grundy Center 42, Treynor 39

Cascade 62, North Union 53, 3OT

Championship

Saturday, March 3

Grundy Center (24-1) vs. Cascade (24-3), 5 p.m.

CLASS 1A

Quarterfinals

Wednesday, Feb. 28

Springville 54, Bishop Garrigan 36

Exira/Elk Horn-Kimballton 57, AGWSR 47

Newell-Fonda 61, Kee, Lansing 45

Central Decatur 52, Montezuma 48

Semifinals

Friday, March 2

Springville 57, Exira/Elk Horn-Kimballton 41

Newell-Fonda 52, Central Decatur 48

Championship

Saturday, March 3

Springville (23-3) vs. Newell-Fonda (26-0), 7 p.m.

——

Grundy Center 42, Treynor 39

GRUNDY CENTER (24-1) — Hailey Wallis 6-12 3-4 18, Maddie McMartin 1-5 0-0 3, Sydney Mathews 0-1 0-0 0, Kylie Willis 1-4 4-6 5, Brooke Flater 2-5 1-2 3, Reegan Zinkula 1-2 0-0 3, Sarah Lindeman 3-5 0-1 7, Cora Saak 0-1 0-0 0. TOTALS 14-35 8-13 42.

TREYNOR (23-2) — Sydney Carman 1-6 0-0 3, Konnor Sudmann 6-17 2-3 16, Kayla Chapman 5-17 3-3 14, Madelyn Deitchler 1-5 1-2 3, Sydni Huisman 0-0 3-4 3, Tori Castle 0-2 0-0 0, Mandy Stogdill 0-1 0-0 0. TOTALS 13-48 9-12 39.

GRUNDY CTR. 12 7 5 18 — 42

TREYNOR 8 5 13 13 — 39

3-Point Goals–GC 6-10 (Wallis 3-5, Zinkula 1-1, Lindeman 1-1, McMartin 1-3), Treynor 4-21 (Sudmann 2-5, Carman 1-6, Chapman 1-8, Castle 0-2). Rebounds–GC 31 (Flater 9), Treynor 28 (Deitchler 6). Assists–GC 11 (Mathews 4), Treynor 5 (Deitchler 2). Total Fouls–GC 14, Treynor 16. Fouled Out–Deitchler.

——

All-Tournament Teams

CLASS 5A

Lauren Zacharias, Iowa City West

Rose Nkumu, Iowa City High

Grace Berg, Indianola

Jennah Johnson, Johnston

Cailyn Morgan, Iowa City West

Ashley Joens, Iowa City High (captain)

CLASS 4A

Chloe Rice, Marion

Naomi Jackson, Grinnell

Madison Dreckman, LeMars

Allison Wooldridge, Center Point-Urbana

Sienna Durr, Grinnell

Kayba Laube, Marion (captain)