Golden Bears fall in championship game
March 6, 2021
Same matchup, same results.
Newell-Fonda is the Class 1A state champion for the third consecutive year. The Mustangs got some clutch play and free throw shooting from all-tournament captain Macy Sievers in the closing minutes and beat Bishop Garrigan of Algona 66-52 for its fourth title overall.
Sievers finished with 17 points, seven rebounds and three steals as the Mustangs closed out another memorable season by defeating the same team they beat in last year's championship game and avenging a 66-45 loss to Bishop Garrigan back in December. Bailey Sievers added 14 points for Newell-Fonda (26-1), which became the eighth school to win three consecutive championships. Maggie Walker scored eight points and Ella Larsen had seven points, nine rebounds and seven steals.
It wasn't a typical game for Newell-Fonda, which averages 81 points and usually scores on a series of fastbreaks and layups off steals. But against a team that had 6- foot-3 sophomore sensation Audi Crooks it the middle, the Mustangs did what they needed to win it.
Crooks was outstanding as usual, finishing with 23 points on 8-for-10 shooting and grabbing 10 rebounds. But the Mustangs did a good job defensively against the Golden Bears' two other scoring threats, Molly Joyce and Kaylyn Meyers. Joyce went 2-for-11 from the field and scored eight points. Meyers went 1-for-6 and finished with six points. Freshman Abbie Capesisus scored seven points for the Golden Bears, who made a good run at Newell-Fonda in the fourth quarter but never got closer than five points.
Newell-Fonda, which also won the 1A title in 2015, finished with 14 steals and scored 26 points off turnovers.
Bishop Garrigan (25-2) whittled away at the lead after trailing by 15 in the first half. The Golden Bears got it down to 43-36 after three quarters, fell behind by 11 over the next 2 1/2 minutes, then closed to 51-46 on Meyers' two free throws with 3:44 left. Newell-Fonda then went into a delay game and forced Garrigan to foul, making sure Macy Sievers had the ball when the foul was called. She made 8-of-9 free throws over the next 1:31 and got the rebound on the one she missed. She also stole the ball and fed Larsen for a layup that made it 59-46 with 2:07 remaining and Larsen set herself up for two free throws with a steal of our own. After sinking a final free throw, Sievers stole the ball back and the Mustangs dribbled out the final seconds.
Bailey Sievers also made the all-tournament team along with Crooks, Meyers, Montezuma's Elise Boulton Exira/Elk Horn-Kimballton's Quinn Grubbs.
March 5, 2021
After losing in last year's state championship game, Audi Crooks and the Bishop Garrigan Golden Bears are getting another chance.
Top-ranked Bishop Garrigan pulled away after a first-quarter tie and rolled to a 57-35 victory over short-handed Exira/Elk Horn-Kimballton in the Class 1A semifinals.
Bishop Garrigan improved to 25-1 and will try for its first state championship at 6:30 p.m. Saturday. The Golden Bears lost to Newell-Fonda 65-63 in last year's finals.
Fourth-ranked Exira/EHK faced a major challenge from the outset, with no one taller than 5-feet-11 to face the 6-foot-3 Crooks and only seven completely healthy players. Still, the Spartans managed a 9-9 tie after one quarter before Bishop Garrigan went on a 13-1 run to take control and hand Exira/EHK its first loss.
Crooks, just a sophomore, scored 17 points, pulled down 18 rebounds and blocked seven shots in the type of dominating performance that has come to define her career. She's a handful by herself, but the Golden Bears also got solid games from perimeter players Molly Joyce and Kaylyn Meyers. Joyce, also a sophomore, scored 17 points, handed out three assists and made two steals. Meyers, a senior, also had three assists and two steals while scoring 10 points.
The Spartans' best chance would have been to make some outside shots and they couldn't get nearly enough to fall, going 3-for-23 from 3-point range and shooting 27 percent overall. Mollie Rasmussen led Exira/EHK with nine points, Quinn Grubbs scored eight and Mollie Rasmussen had six. Coach Tom Peterson was able to get senior Tatum Grubbs, who suffered a midseason ACL injury, into the game and she knocked down a 3-pointer and made a layup after a steal. Peterson called a timeout with 10 seconds left to get her out of the game and gave her a long hug as the Spartans' fans applauded.
Crooks scored on putbacks, lob passes and short turnaround jumpers in making 7- of-12 shots. She got the Golden Bears' fastbreak going with outlet passes, including one to Joyce, who finished the break with a spinning layup. Moments later, Crooks swatted away a shot to trigger another break that Joyce finished.
Exira/EHK made the state tournament for the first time in its current combination. Elk Horn-Kimballton was a perennial state tournament contender in the six-player days and Peterson guided Exira to the 2010 Class 1A title with Hall of Famer Hallie Christofferson in 2010. The Spartans finish 24-1.
March 3, 2021
Bishop Garrigan hasn't faced many challenges in its dominating season, but the topranked Golden Bears received a stiff one from Spingville. They survived, getting 25 points and 10 rebounds from super sophomore Audi Crooks and winning 48-42 to open Class 1A action in the 2021 state tournament.
Bishop Garrigan built an early nine-point lead, fell behind in the third quarter, then got the ball inside to the 6-foot-3 Crooks to build the cushion it needed to hold off the eighth-ranked Orioles and advance to the semifinals for the second straight year.
Crooks, who already has drawn the attention of power conference coaches from across the country, made her first six shots, missed one at the start of the second half and then never missed again, finishing 12-for-13 despite Springville's attempts to surround her in the low post. She also blocked six shots, intimidated the shooter on several others and made two steals.
Molly Joyce, also a sophomore, added 13 points and sank 6-of-8 free throws in the final 1:20 to protect the lead.
Senior Katleyn Meyers provided a steadying influence with seven points, nine rebounds and six assists.
Lauren Wilson, a 6-foot junior, did not back down in challenging Crooks and led Springville with 13 points. She added to that with nine rebounds, four assists and two steals. Grace Matus scored nine points for the Orioles, while Molly Stamp, Morgan Nachazel and Hannah March each scored six.
Springville forced 24 turnovers with its aggressive defense but the Orioles committed 21 themselves and shot just 26 percent. Springville sliced a nine-point Garrigan lead to 23-19 by halftime and pulled ahead 29-27 after successive 3-pointers by Matus and Nachazel midway through the third quarter. T
he score was tied three times after that before Meyers fed reserve Abbie Capesius for a layup that put Bishop Garrigan up 35-33. Joyce flipped an underhand pass to Crooks for a layup that made it 37-33 and another Crooks basket inside in the first minute of the fourth quarter stretched the lead to 39-33. Springville pulled to 41-39 with 1:45 left, then had to start fouling and Bishop Garrigan, last year's state runner-up, wrapped it up on free throws.
Garrigan, which had only two other victories decided by fewer than 10 points, will take a 24-1 record into a semifinal game at 2 p.m. Friday. The Golden Bears' only loss was to Class 5A West Des Moines Valley in their final regular-season game.
Springville, in the tournament for the eighth time in 13 seasons, started four juniors and a sophomore so the Orioles will be heard from again. They finish 21-5. Their only losses were two to Class 2A No. 1 ranked Maquoketa Valley and two to Class 2A state qualifier North Linn.