For the Newell Fonda Mustangs, it was a moment that erased past state championship losses of the past few years, but for the West Hancock Eagles, it was a bar to be set for next year. The Eagles lost in the 1A State Championship Game at Wells Fargo Arena in Des Moines 76-52. However, for the team made up of strictly underclassmen, it was a tremendous learning experience of finding what it takes to win the title. The Mustangs provided the experience having lost several times before the victory on Saturday night.
The Mustangs were aggressive from the very tip off of the game. They came out and pressed hard, constantly swarming to the basketball defensively and striking from outside the arc hitting 42.9% of their shots. The Eagles mustered 17.6% from the 3 point line. Meanwhile, anytime the Eagles pressed the game inside, the Mustangs would swarm to the ball handler. The Mustangs also choked off any opportunity to feed the ball to the Eagles Mahayla Faust or Amanda Chizek underneath.
The Eagles went down 9-2 with 6:16 left in the 1st quarter. Rachel Leerar struck back with two of her three point shots in the game. However, the Mustangs Ella Larson struck back with two of her own and closed the first quarter with a 24-14 lead.
Shooting the 2nd quarter got better for the Eagles as Riley Hiscocks drained a three pointer early in the second quarter and Leerar began to hit from inside the arc. Leerar went 8 of 14 for the game in the arc and 2 of 5 beyond it for 22 points in the game. Amanda Chizek continued to give the Eagles help on the offensive boards grabbing three of her seven rebounds in the game. She also helped the Eagles on the defensive boards by pulling down seven there too.
Olivia Larsen for the Mustangs began to get hot with her inside shooting, Larsen was 6 of 11 on the night and got help from Megan Morenz who went 9 of 13 inside the three point line. By halftime, the Eagles were down 44-31.
The Eagles made some adjustments in the second half, but they could not get any three pointers to fall. The scoring was done inside the arc where they converted on a third of their attempts. The Mustangs went 6 of 14 from inside the arc, but could not get the three pointers to fall either. The third quarter ended 57-37, Mustangs.
The fourth quarter saw the Eagles mount a minor comeback only to have it thwarted by the free throw shooting of the Mustangs. For the game, Newell Fonda shot 75% from the line compared to the Eagles 58.3%. Three point shots also fell easier for the Mustangs who were 42.9% compared the the Eagles 17.6%. Leerar led all scorers for the Eagles with 22 points. Megan Morenz had 19 points to led the Mustangs.
After the game, Eagles Head Coach Paul Sonius took a moment to talk with KIOW’s A. J. Taylor about the game.
The Eagles finished 25-2 on the season. The school has planned a welcome home celebration for the team at 2:30pm on Sunday in the high school gym. It will be video streamed on kiow.com. Click on the streaming tab at the top of the page.