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Trojans turn back E-B-F

Gradwell nets 23 points as West Marshall grounds Rockets

T-R PHOTO BY ROSS THEDE • West Marshall senior Isabelle Gradwell, left, glides in for a layup against Eddyville-Blakesburg-Fremont defender Kennedy Landgrebe during the second half of Wednesday’s Class 3A Region 7 semifinal in State Center. Gradwell had a game-high 23 points in the Trojans’ 59-34 win.

STATE CENTER — Emma Meyer couldn’t help but think of the finality of it all, playing her last home game with the West Marshall girls’ basketball team.

She had already used the way the last two seasons ended as motivation to help get her team to this point.

Meyer and two other Trojan seniors closed out their home-court careers with a convincing victory, defeating Eddyville-Blakesburg-Fremont 59-34 in Wednesday’s Class 3A Region 7 semifinals. West Marshall’s win sets up a clash with South Tama County (14-9) in Saturday’s regional final at Gilbert High School after those Trojans knocked off No. 6 Roland-Story, 56-52.

The last time these two Trojans met in the postseason was the last home game of Meyer’s sophomore year. She saw some but not much court time when No. 12 West Marshall dropped a double-overtime thriller to STC in State Center.

And after watching PCM play at state a week after beating West Marshall in last year’s regional finals, Meyer and Co. decided they had come too far to let their last home game be anything but a victory.

T-R PHOTO BY ROSS THEDE • West Marshall senior Emma Meyer (32) pulls up for a jumper against Eddyville-Blakesburg-Fremont defender Torie Alexander (22) during the third quarter of their Class 3A Region 7 semifinal Wednesday in State Center.

“Last year was different because I had one more season, but this year it’s very exciting going out on a high note in front of my friends,” she said after the win. “It’s pretty exciting [meeting South Tama in the regional final] because my sophomore year we lost to them in the first round of regionals, which was kind of a shocker, so it would be pretty good to get that one back.”

Fellow senior Isabelle Gradwell scored a game-high 23 points thanks to four 3-pointers, while Meyer contributed two points, five rebounds, two assists and two steals to the Trojan triumph.

West Marshall (19-4) — winners of seven straight — bounced out to a 23-8 lead after the opening period and appeared poised to ground the visiting Rockets (11-11) before halftime. But an error-plagued second quarter caught up to the Trojans and Eddyville-Blakesburg-Fremont showed signs of climbing back into what had begun as a blowout.

“I think we just got ahead of ourselves,” Meyer said. “I think our coach said it best: we were a step too fast on offense and a step too slow on defense, but I think we got it figured out and came back strong.

“We switched our defenses in the second half and I think that gave us a spark.”

T-R PHOTO BY ROSS THEDE

Karlyn Snider scored eight of West Marshall’s 13 points in the third quarter while the Trojan defense locked down on Eddyville-Blakesburg-Fremont’s give-and-go offense against West Marshall’s zone. Sophomore post Teresa Disney stepped into the Rockets’ favorite passing lane and picked off a number of passes, ending the night with a team-leading seven steals to go with her double-double of 12 points and 12 rebounds.

Disney and Gradwell represented a decided height advantage for the Trojans, but one they got too antsy about trying to take advantage of in the second quarter. West Marshall made seven turnovers in the period before gaining some perspective at halftime.

“I thought our kids came out really fired up and ready to play and jumped out and our press was effective early on,” said Trojans head coach Fred Zeller, “and then we made some silly fouls and we had to slow up a little bit of our intensity and that gave [E-B-F] some momentum.

“We didn’t play a very smart second quarter with the big lead we had. We didn’t totally collapse or lose the lead but we probably should have been more patient … but you can’t fault the kids; they’re shooting the ball with confidence and even if you miss a couple that’s the way we have to play. It was a little disconcerting but at halftime we talked about just a little bit better execution and keep doing the things we were doing. We cleaned things up a bit and then our defense took over in the third quarter.”

Snider finished with 11 points while Kayla Cripps chimed in with five points, six rebounds and four steals — most of those leading to fast-break opportunities.

T-R PHOTO BY ROSS THEDE

Gradwell had all but three of West Marshall’s 12 points in the fourth quarter — save for an Avril Sinning 3-pointer that prompted a hearty fist-pump from Zeller.

Torie Alexander led Eddyville-Blakesburg-Fremont with 14 points, but the Rockets still suffered their fifth loss in their final six games. Kennedy Landgrebe added eight points for E-B-F, which failed to stretch West Marshall’s zone defense due to its outside shooting woes. The Rockets’ only 3-pointer came with 1:10 left in the game, and 26 turnovers were too much to overcome.

West Marshall 59, Eddyville-Blakesburg-Fremont 34

At State Center

EDDYVILLE-BLAKESBURG-FREMONT (11-11) — Emalee Davis 1 2-2 4, Madison Wade 1 1-2 3, Randie Richmond 0 0-0 0, Torie Alexander 5 4-6 14, Kennedy Landgrebe 3 2-3 8, Kacie Flaig 1 0-0 3, Grace Roberts 0 0-0 0, Eleanor Breon 0 0-0 0, Shelby Seddon 0 0-0 0, Taylor Caves 0 0-0 0, Lillie Hynick 1 0-0 2. TOTALS 12 9-13 34.

WEST MARSHALL (19-4) — Kayla Cripps 2 1-2 5, Isabelle Gradwell 7 5-6 23, Karlyn Snider 4 1-1 11, Emma Meyer 1 0-0 2, Teresa Disney 6 0-0 12, Jaiden Hart 0 0-0 0, Grace de Neui 0 0-0 0, Avril Sinning 2 0-0 5, Eliza Girard 0 0-0 0, Abby Green 0 0-0 0, Grace Girard 0 0-0 0, Renae Schaper 0 1-2 1. TOTALS 22 8-11 59.

E-B-F 8 13 4 9 — 34

W. MARSHALL 23 11 13 12 — 59

3-Point Goals–E-B-F 1 (Flaig), WM 7 (Gradwell 4, Snider 2, Sinning). Total Fouls–E-B-F 12, WM 15. Fouled Out–Schaper.