The West Hancock Eagles are one step closer to an impossible dream. Winning the state championship of Iowa in girls basketball. The group of underclassman who will not graduate a senior for two years will take on the Newell Fonda Mustangs in a 7pm Saturday matchup in Wells Fargo Arena. The game can be heard on KHAM 103.1fm, KIOW 107.3fm, and live audio streamed on kiow.com.
The Eagles dispatched the Montezuma Bravettes 59-50 through some creative adjustments on Friday night. The Eagles began the night working outside the free throw area and capitalizing on Rachel Leerar’s shooting. She was 11-19 for 25 points on the night and scored her 1,000th career point early in the game. Leerar and Mahayla Faust tried to feed Amanda Chizek under the bucket early in the first, but the Bravettes Shateah Weterling had keyed in on that possibility picking 3 steals inside the paint for points on the other end. The first quarter ended in a dramatic 13-13 tie.
In the second quarter, the Eagles began to attack using not only the skills of Leerar, but incorporating Madison Eisenman who went 2-5 from outside the arc, and Riley Hiscocks who not only distributed the ball well for key shots, but went 2-3 from inside the arc herself. Montezuma countered by getting three point shots from Weterling, Riley Gatton, and Maddy McKeag. The Eagles led at the half 29-24.
In the 3rd quarter, it was obvious that both teams had discussed adjustments. Weterling for the Bravettes was sent outside more, prowling around the perimeter for open threes while Riley Gatton worked more inside. The Eagles kept Amanda Chizek inside until she began to run into foul trouble late in the third with four personal fouls. This forced Eagles Head Coach Paul Sonius into a decision. He took Chizek off the floor and put in Leah Aitchison to grab rebounds and hold off Weterling. The end of the third quarter saw the Eagles ahead 41-36.
The Bravettes then tied the game in the fourth using inside shooting from Maddie McKeag who went 1-4, Elise Boulton who was 3-7, and Weterling who was 5-16 from inside the arc. The Eagles made an adjustment of their own. Sonius put Chizek up on the high post and moved Kennedy Kelley and Rachel Leerar in to drive the bucket. This freed up Chizek to grab defensive and offensive rebounds, which she had 17 and continues to set school records in that category. With Weterling up guarding Chizek, the Bravettes began to foul Kelley and Leerar under the bucket on each drive. Leerar went 3 of 5 from the line and Kelley was 4 of 6. The Eagles used the charity stripe to stretch the lead in the closing stages of the 4th quarter along with key steals on the defensive end to come away with a 59-50 victory and advance to the state finals.
The Eagles went 24 of 48 or 50% from the field in the game compared to the Bravettes who were 16 of 49 or 32.7%.
The Newell Fonda Mustangs got past Marquette Catholic 45-28 in their state semi-final match up to set the stage for #1 Newell Fonda playing #2 West Hancock in the championship game Saturday night.