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Garrigan crushes Comets’ chances

Top-ranked Golden Bears beat BCLUW 63-31 to advance to state basketball

T-R PHOTO BY NOAH ROHLFING - BCLUW junior guard Allison Engle walks off the court as top-ranked Bishop Garrigan of Algona celebrates its 63-31 victory over the Comets in Wednesday night’s Class 1A Region 1 championship game at Mason City High School. The Golden Bears qualified for state for the second year in a row.

MASON CITY — Against a powerhouse like Class 1A No. 1 Bishop Garrigan, the BCLUW Comets were always going to be fighting an uphill battle.

The hill was too steep to climb for the Comets on Wednesday as they fell to the Golden Bears 63-31 in the Class 1A Region 1 final at Mason City High School and ended their season with a 15-10 record.

Garrigan (23-1) will make its sixth trip to state.

The challenge of guarding 6-foot-3 sophomore center Audi Crooks was made clear from the opening couple of minutes, when Crooks made a putback in the lane and then drew a foul on Betula Messerly.

Crooks scored the Bears’ first eight points of the game and continued to be a dominant force throughout, finishing with a game-high 26 points.

T-R PHOTO BY NOAH ROHLFING - BCLUW senior Lizzie Garber, center, draws a foul against Bishop Garrigan’s Audi Crooks in the first quarter of Wednesday’s Class 1A Region 1 final in Mason City.

Crooks also made the Comets plan their offensive game around her — as coach Dave Lee said BCLUW planned to keep the ball moving quickly around the perimeter to move the Bears’ defenders.

The problem, though, was the speed with which the Golden Bears rotated and made those perimeter passes difficult for the Comets.

“They really took some of that away from us,” Lee said. “We thought we’d done some things with our movement to where we could neutralize that a little bit. I thought we had the ball into the short corner on the post side where we wanted it, and then we just didn’t make a good pass.”

The first quarter ended with Garrigan leading 19-8 and the Comets feeling as though they were missing chances to get back in the game from the 3-point line. Lee said he counted at least three missed open shots, which he said could have changed the game’s early complexion.

But against a team like Bishop Garrigan — whose only loss to date this season came to Class 5A No. 10 West Des Moines Valley by four points — missed opportunities lead to blowouts, Lee said.

T-R PHOTO BY NOAH ROHLFING

The game broke open in the second quarter, and the Bears extended their advantage from 11 to 28 at the halftime whistle. Turnovers from BCLUW turned into layups and 3s for Bishop Garrigan, while Crooks made shots in the paint nearly impossible for the Comets to convert.

The lead expanded to 41 points by the end of the third quarter, as Crooks and Molly Joyce made life difficult for the BCLUW defense.

The result was no longer in doubt, but the Comets didn’t stop playing. Although the Bears did pull some of their starters early in the fourth, BCLUW outscored the Bears by nine points and finally found the offensive rhythm that was evasive early on.

The Comets lose three starters to graduation in Lizzie Garber, Presley Engle and Messerly. The team’s leading scorers this season, Allison Engle and Chloe Walters, return for a senior season in 2021-22.

Walters led the Comets with 11 points in the game, while Garber scored eight, Messerly five and Allison Engle four.

T-R PHOTO BY NOAH ROHLFING

Lee said he was proud of the improvements the Comets made during the season, particularly defensively.

“We got our defense to where we could really play defense,” Lee said. “And then that brought the offense along, and that let us win some games where maybe we shouldn’t have won. Offensively, we just got more used to each other.”

Garrigan will face No. 8 Springville (21-4) in the 1A state quarterfinals on March 3 at Wells Fargo Arena in Des Moines.

Bishop Garrigan 63, BCLUW 31

BCLUW (15-10) — Lizzie Garber 2 2-2 8, Presley Engle 1 0-0 3, Allison Engle 2 0-0 4, Betula Messerly 2 0-0 5, Chloe Walters 5 1-2 11, Anistyn Borsch-Rash 0 0-0 0, Katie Hill 0 0-0 0. TOTALS 12 3-4 31.

BISHOP GARRIGAN (23-1) — Molly Joyce 6 2-3 14, Kaylyn Meyers 2 0-0 4, Gracie Elsbecker 0 1-2 1, Reese Rosenmeyer 0 0-0 0, Audi Crooks 9 8-9 26, Emma Grandgenett 2 0-0 4, Anna Berke 3 0-1 8, Gracie Rosenmeyer 0 0-0 0, Kelly Baade 0 0-0 0, Abbie Capesius 3 0-0 6, Meredith Tigges 0 0-0 0, Ashlyn Hovey 0 0-0 0. TOTALS 25 11-15 63.

BCLUW 8 5 5 13 — 31

GARRIGAN 19 22 18 4 — 63

3-Point Goals–BCLUW 4 (Garber 2, P.Engle, Messerly), Garrigan 2 (Berke 2). Team Fouls–BCLUW 10, Garrigan 8. Fouled out–none.

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