Monday, February 25, 2013

Royal Pride; Season Ends At State Tourney



By Andrew Gogerty

This past Friday, I ran into a star player from the 2012 Colo-Nesco girls’ basketball team who graduated last May.  After some small-talk about what she was studying at Iowa State and about the upcoming state tournaments, she told me five words about the 2013 Royals that have stuck in my head all week:

“I’m so proud of them.”

That “star player” from last year was Jessica Johnson, and she said those words to me as sincerely as anyone could have said them.  After the final horn sounded today at Wells Fargo Arena, and the scoreboard read 60-43 in favor of Burlington Notre-Dame, those were the words that kept coming to my mind as well.

“I’m so proud of them.”

Colo-Nesco’s season came to an end today, but what a season it was.  The Royals finished 23-3, bowing out to an extremely talented squad from Burlington.  When I began doing research for my Girls State Tournament Preview, I knew they were either a) really good or b) that they had played inferior competition.  After all, there are very few men’s collegiate teams that put up 90 points four times in one season, let alone a high school girls’ team, which is exactly what this potent bunch from Burlington Notre-Dame had done.  Turns out, this team and this offense (and its defense) were the real deal.  By halftime, they had already scored more points than the Royals usually give up for an entire game.

In the end, it was a 10-0 run at the end of the first half that ultimately did in the Royals.  Colo-Nesco kept it close for most of the first half, trailing by just four points late into the second quarter.  Then the Royals saw why the Nike’s are the top-scoring team in Class 1a as they went on their late scoring spurt to close out the quarter, taking a 37-23 lead into the locker room.

The shots just wouldn’t fall for the Royals for much of the afternoon.  Every time it looked like Colo-Nesco could go on a run, the Nike’s would answer with a three-pointer or a steal and a lay-up.  They will be a serious contender for the state title and, unfortunately, many of their star players will be back next season.

Speaking of next season, the Royals also have plenty to look forward to.  The Royals return all but two players, including four of five starters.  Shayla Dean, Caitlyn Riese, Shelby Anthony, and Madison Farren return as starters, and will give Colo-Nesco another solid chance at making the state tournaments, along with a talented bunch of reserves from this season.  I wouldn’t be at all surprised to see the Royals ranked in the top 10 for most of next year.

For three seniors, today was the last time they will ever put on a Colo-Nesco basketball jersey.  I think we lost to a better team today, so for me, that was the hardest part--watching the three seniors (Madison Eley, Ashlyn Eley, and Haley Stoeffler) in their final moments.  I’ve enjoyed watching the Eley family play high school basketball ever since I was 9 years old, from Dwight’s days as a Nesco Royal, to their 3 kids who each had magnificent careers, ending with Madison’s appearance in the state tournament today.  And Haley Stoeffler was as valuable to this team as anyone down the stretch of this season.  Her outside shooting will be sorely missed next year.  She was the leading scorer in today’s game, her final as a Royal. 

It’s always sad when an exciting chapter of life comes to an end.  This girls team provided a year of amazing moments for their families and fans and for themselves.  Those memories can never be taken away and neither can the results of one of the finest seasons in Colo-Nesco basketball history.  I really enjoyed watching this team play and I can’t wait for next season to start.  I loved this team’s intensity, desire, heart, and character.   

As the sun sets on this day, and another season of Royals basketball, I think all Royals fans would join me in saying:

“We’re so proud of you.”

Friday, February 22, 2013

Girls State Tournament Preview






Girls State Tournament Preview, Class 1a

By Andrew Gogerty

One of these 8 schools will win their first-ever state championship.  Ar-We-Va finished as the state runner-up in 2011, while Newell-Fonda was state runner-up in 1997, 2000, and 2008.  Colo-Nesco was state runner-up in 1991 and 2002.  Two schools (Burlington-Notre Dame and Central Lyon) are making their first-ever appearance in the girls state tournaments.  Newell Fonda has the most appearances at state with 9, followed by Colo-Nesco with 7. 

Here's a short capsule of my 5 favorites to win it all:

Central Lyon is the state’s top-ranked team, led by Class 1a’s best player, Lexi Ackerman, a 5’10 point guard who leads the state in assists.  Lexi’s twin sister, Kelsey, the team’s third-leading scorer, tore her ACL during regionals.
 
Newell-Fonda is the #2 team in the state and has the only returning Des Moines Register All-State selection from Class 1a from last season (Renee Maneman). 

Ar-We-Va, the #4 team in the state, has five players that all average close to 10 points per game or better, led by Paige Danner, who averages over 18 points per game.

Burlington-Notre Dame is the #5 team in the state.  The Nikes average over 72 points per game, boast the tournament’s leading three-point shooter, and are #2 in the state in steals behind Colo-Nesco.

Colo-Nesco is the #7 team in the state and has defeated the most ranked opponents of any team in the Class 1a field.  They boast the tournament’s top-ranked defense, can score inside and out, and can also create points off of turnovers.  They are the only team in Class 1a to rank in the top 10 in both offensive and defensive scoring averages.

Players to Watch:


--Amanda Focht, Villisca, 5’10 Senior (14 points; 11 rebounds per game)

--Jill Vanderhoof, Villisca, 5’9 Senior (13 points; 8 rebounds; 3 assists; 4 steals per game)
 
--Morgan Myers, Burlington-Notre Dame, 5’8 Senior (15 points; 4 steals per game)

--Taylor Hickey, Burlington-Notre Dame, 5’6 Sophomore (12 points; 8 assists; 5 steals per game)
 


--Lexi Ackerman, Central Lyon,5’10 Senior (16 points; 4 rebounds; 8 assists; 5 steals per game)

 

--Renee Maneman, Newell-Fonda, 5’5 Junior (17 points; 5 rebounds; 6 assists; 4 steals per game)

 
--Madison Eley, Colo-Nesco, 5’10 Senior (13 points; 6 rebounds; 3 assists; 3 steals per game)

--Caitlyn Riese, Colo-Nesco, 6’1 Junior (11 points; 6 rebounds per game)

--Shayla Dean, Colo-Nesco, 5’2 Sophomore (8 points; 4 assists; 6 steals per game)


--Paige Danner, Ar-We-Va, 5’7 Junior (18 points; 3 steals per game)

--Brittany Stoelk, Ar-We-Va, 5’8 Senior (11 points; 4 rebounds per game)

Villisca (21-4); Unranked; State Tournament Appearances: 2

                *Overview:  Villisca upset Bedford, the #3 team in Class 1a to get to the state tournament.  Bedford had beaten Villisca by 19 points earlier in the season.  This is Villisca’s first state tournament since 1968.

                *Key Wins: Bedford (#3 team in 1a)

                *Losses: 49-30 @ Bedford (#3 team in 1a); 48-46 @ Stanton (16-6); 48-42 vs Heartland Christian; 49-46 @ Fremont-Mills (16-6)

                *Starters: Morgan Haer, Sr. 5’7 (13.5 ppg); Jill Vanderhoof, Sr. 5’9 (13.0 ppg; 8.6 rpg; 3.4 apg; 4.1 spg); Mikayla Dolch, Jr. 5’9 (6.3 ppg; 4.3 rpg); Amanda Focht, Sr. 5’10 (14.2 ppg; 11.1 rpg; 2 bpg); BreeAnn Fisher, Sr. 5’5 (3.4 ppg)

                *Strengths: Three players that average over 13 points per game.  Veteran team with four senior starters.  Top 10 in rebounding in Class 1a (#8).

                *Weaknesses:  Not many big wins outside of the upset win over Bedford in substate.

Newell-Fonda (19-2); Ranked #2; State Tournament Appearances: 9

                *Overview: Six foot center Claudia Larsen scored 28 points in the substate game to lead Newell-Fonda to its 9th state tournament appearance.  Renee Maneman is one of the top players in Class 1a.

                *Key Wins: Manson-NW Webster (#6 Class 2a); South Central Calhoun (19-5); Hinton (#11 Class 2a)

                *Losses: 51-50 @ Sioux Central (15-7); 60-47 vs Estherville Lincoln Central (#3 team in Class 3a)

                *Starters: Renee Maneman, Jr. 5’5 (17.3 ppg; 5.0 rpg; 6.1 apg; 4.0 spg); Andrea Christensen, Sr. 5’10 (10.5 ppg; 4.7 rpg); Taiyler Schrank, Jr. 5’7 (6.6 ppg); Claudia Larsen, Jr 6’0 (9.6 ppg; 7.2 rpg; 3.1 bpg); Brianna Wells, Jr. 5’5 (7.0 ppg)

                *Strengths: Rank #2 in Class 1a in three-pointers made (behind Burlington Notre Dame).  Rank #2 in Class 1a in scoring at 65.0 ppg.  Renee Maneman was a Des Moines Register 2nd Team All-State selection last season as a sophomore.

                *Weaknesses: Hard to pinpoint any, which is why they are rated #2 in the state.

Marquette Catholic (16-6); Ranked #13; State Tournament Appearances: 5

                *Overview: Used a 1-3-1 zone to rattle #6 Grundy Center in the substate game, securing a 53-48 upset win.

*Key Wins: Defeated Grundy Center (#6 Class 1a) to advance to the state tournaments. Also beat Preston (#14 Class 1a). 

                *Losses:46-35@ Western Dubuque (#11 Class 4a); 59-52 @ Goose Lake; 64-28 vs Bellevue; 58-42 @ Preston (#14 Class 1a); 46-43 @ Prince of Peace; 59-42 vs Goose Lake

                *Starters: Kelsey Tebbe, Sr. 5’6 (11.9 ppg); Theresa Koos, Sr. 5’8 (5.4 ppg); Danielle Bender, Sr. 5’11 (10.6 ppg; 9.4 rpg); Sarah Lampe, Sr. 5’5 (7.2 ppg; 5.2 rpg; 5.0 apg); Grace Sieverding, Jr. 5’11(2.6 ppg; 5.9 rpg)

                *Strengths: Senior leadership.  Start 4 seniors and a junior.  Athletic: Qualified for state in softball and volleyball this year.     

                *Weaknesses: One of worst defensive teams in tournament field, surrendering 43 points per game (#48 in Class 1a).  Not a good three-point shooting team.

Ar-We-Va (21-3); Ranked #4; State Tournament Appearances: 4

                *Overview: This will be the third year in a row Ar-We-Va has made the state tournament.  Paige Danner leads a dangerous offensive attack for the perennial powerhouse from western Iowa. 

                *Key Wins:  Woodbury Central; LeMars Gehlen Catholic (#12 Class 1a); OABCIG;Exira EHK

                *Losses: 78-62 @ Lawton-Bronson (ranked #2 Class 2a); 75-53 @ IKM-Manning (#3 Class 2a); 79-65 vs IKM Manning

                *Starters: Paige Danner, Jr. 5’7 (18.0 ppg; 3.9 spg); Brittany Stoelk, Sr. 5’8 (11.9 ppg; 4.0 rpg; 52 three pointers); Megan Ehlers, Sr. 5’6 (9.4 ppg; 3.1 apg; 4.1 spg); Lexie Vande Hoef, Sr. 5’8 (8.2 ppg; 4.4 rpg); Amy Hinners, Sr. 5’10 (9.4 ppg; 7.0 rpg)

                *Strengths: Amazing scoring balance with five players that average close to ten points per game or more. 

                *Weaknesses: Haven’t beaten many high-quality teams other than Gehlen Catholic in substate.

Colo-Nesco (23-2); Ranked #7; State Tournament Appearances: 7

                *Overview:  The Royals defensive average of 33.75 points per game ranks #2 in the state in Class 1a.  The contest with Burlington-Notre Dame will be a classic matchup of the state’s #1 offense versus one of the state’s top ranked defenses.  The Royals rank in the top 10 in Class 1a in both offensive scoring average and defensive scoring average (the only team in the Class 1a state tournament field to rank in top 10 in both).  According to BCMoore Rankings, the Royals are actually the third-best team remaining in Class 1a, behind Central Lyon and Newell Fonda.  The Class 1a record for steals in a state tournament game (9), could be eclipsed by Shayla Dean, who ranks #2 in the state in steals (all classes).

*Key Wins: West Marshall (Class 2a #8 team); Meskwaki (twice; Class 1a #9 team); Janesville (Class 1a #10 team); Clarksville (Class 1a #15 team); Pella Christian (Class 2a state qualifier)

                *Losses: West Marshall (Class 2a #8 team); Meskwaki (Class 1a #9 team)

                *Starters: Caitlyn Riese, Jr. 6’1 (11.4 ppg; 6.8 rpg; 1.3 bpg); Madison Farren, Jr. 5’9 (7.7 ppg; 6.6 rpg; 2.2 spg); Madison Eley, Sr. 5’10 (13.2 ppg; 6.3 rpg; 3.5 apg; 3.5 spg); Shelby Anthony, Jr. 5’4(6.0 ppg; 1.9 spg); Shayla Dean, So. 5’2 (8.0 ppg; 4.8 apg; 6.4 spg)

                *Strengths:  Scoring balance; Defense.  The Royals are #1 in the state in steals, #4 in the state in assists, and #4 in the state in average margin of victory

                *Weaknesses:  Turnovers.

Burlington-Notre Dame (21-3); Ranked #5; State Tournament Appearances: 1

                *Overview: Nicknamed the “Nikes,” Burlington-Notre Dame enters the tournament as the #1 scoring team in Class 1a, averaging 72.7 points per game.  This is the first-ever tournament appearance for the school.  The Nikes have scored 80 or more points NINE times this season with a season-high 92 points against Cardinal of Eldon. They are defeating teams by an average of 31.7 points per game; #1 in Class 1a.

                *Key Wins: @ Central Lee (#8 team Class 3a);

                *Losses: 69-34 at Davenport Assumption (the #1 team in Class 3a); 74-69 against Central Lee, Donnellson (the #8 team in Class 3a); 74-40 against Mediapolis (the #6 team in Class 3a).

                *Starters: Alex Yacko, Sr. 5’10 (9.4 ppg; 5 rpg); Kori Mesecher, So. 5’8 (7.0 ppg; 7.4 rpg); Morgan Myers, Sr. 5’8 (15.0 ppg; 4.4 spg); G—Taylor Hickey, So. 5’6 (12.5 ppg; 8 apg; 5.3 spg); G--Courtney Coffin, So. 5’5 (11.1 ppg) 

                *Strengths:  The Nikes shoot over 70 percent from the free throw line.  Courtney Coffin, a 94% free throw shooter, has made 65 three-pointers this season.  B-ND doesn’t turn the ball over much either, and has the second most steals in the state (485) behind Colo-Nesco (492).

                *Weaknesses: With three starters that are sophomores, could the Nikes get rattled with the type of defense the Royals play?  Outside of the three losses to 3a schools, their competition hasn’t been the greatest, although they did beat one of those 3a schools that are currently ranked in the top 10.  They’ve also never been to the state tournament before, which could rattle a young team.

Earlham (16-9); Unranked; State Tournament Appearances: 2

                *Overview: Upset #8 Adair-Casey in regionals.  This is Earlham’s first state tournament appearance since 1981.

*Key Wins: #8 Adair-Casey; Twin Cedars

                *Losses: 41-39 vs Osceola; 58-55 vs DM Christian; 53-44 @ Woodward Granger; 45-44 @ Van Meter; 65-36 @ Panorama (#7 Class 2a); 51-48 @ DM Christian; 68-42 vs Woodward Granger; 44-43 vs Van Meter; 81-41 vs Panorama

                *Starters: Kristen Weber, So. 5’4 (10.7 ppg; 4.4 apg; 3.6 spg); Morgan Johnson, Jr. 5’8 (13.8 ppg; 6.8 rpg); Bri Arnburg, Sr. 5’6 (5.2 ppg); Addie Herman, Jr. 5’8 (4.6ppg; 3.8 rpg); Abbey Murphy, Jr. 5’9(9.8 ppg; 9.8 rpg)

                *Strengths: Top rebounding team in Class 1a.

                *Weaknesses:   A lot of losses, not a good shooting team, and turns the ball over a lot.

Central Lyon (23-2); Ranked #1; State Tournament Appearances: 1

                *Overview:  This will be the first state tournament appearance ever for Central Lyon.  The Lions trailed by six at halftime of their substate game, but went on a 20-0 run in the third quarter to beat West Sioux. The Lions suffered a huge blow when senior Kelsey Ackerman (10 ppg) tore her ACL during the regionals.  She is the twin sister of Central Lyon’s best player, Lexi Ackerman, a 5’10 point guard, who is one of the best players in Class 1a, if not the best. She leads the state in assists.  The Lions hale from a hotbed of traditionally great high school basketball teams in the northwest corner of Iowa.  Their only losses of the year were to MOC Floyd Valley, the #2 team in Class 3a. 

                *Key Wins: Sioux Center

                *Losses: 58-45 vs MOC Floyd Valley (#2 team Class 3a); 53-49 @ MOC Floyd Valley

                *Starters: Lexi Ackerman, Sr. 5’10 (16.7 ppg; 4.8 rpg; 8.6 apg; 5.2 spg); Kori Schulte, Sr. 5’9 (13.8 ppg; 6.0 rpg); Wynter Roths, Jr. 5’8 (4.5 ppg); Sarah Halse, So. 5’8 (8.2 ppg; 5.6 rpg; 2.8 spg); Ivy Sieperda, So. 5’7 (3.1 ppg)

                *Strengths: Central Lyon is #1 in Class 1a in assists, #5 in steals, #3 in scoring.  According to BCMoorerankings.com, Central Lyon played the #2 most difficult schedule in Class 1a this season.

                *Weaknesses: Not a good three point shooting team, and they do turn the ball over quite a bit.  How much will the loss of Kelsey Ackerman affect them?

 
Offense:

1.     Burlington Notre Dame  72.3

2.    Newell Fonda           64.3

3.    Central Lyon             63.4

4.    Ar-We-Va                   62.8

5.    Colo-Nesco               57.9

6.    Villisca                       55.6

7.    Earlham                     52.8

8.    Bellevue Marquette 50.9


Defense:

1.    Colo-Nesco                     33.7

2.    Villisca                             35.6

3.    Ar-We-Va                         37.7

4.    Newell Fonda                 38.6

5.    Burlington Notre Dame 41.09

6.    Central Lyon                   41.6

7.    Earlham                           43.0

8.    Bellevue Marquette       43.4



Points Per Game:

1.       Paige Danner, AR-We-Va                  18.0

2.       Renee Maneman, Newell Fonda     17.3

3.       Lexi Ackerman, Central Lyon            16.7

4.       Morgan Myers, Burlington ND         15.0

5.       Amanda Focht, Villisca                       14.2

6.       Morganne Haer, Villisca                     13.5
      7.     Madison Eley, Colo-Nesco                 13.2   


Rebounds Per Game:

1.       Amanda Focht, Villisca                 11.1

2.       Abbey Murphy, Earlham              9.8

3.       Danielle Bender, Bellevue            9.5

4.       Jill Vanderhoof, Villisca                 8.6

5.       Kori Mesecher, Burlington ND    7.6

6.       Amy Hinners, ArWeVa                  7.0

7.       Caitlyn Riese, Colo-Nesco             6.9
 
Assists:
1.       Lexi Ackerman, Central Lyon         216
2.       Taylor Hickey, Burlington ND        192
3.       Renee Maneman, Newell Fonda   129
4.       Shayla Dean, Colo-Nesco                120
5.       Kristen Weber, Earlham                  111
6.       Sarah Lampe, Bellevue Marq.       110
7.       Madison Eley, Colo-Nesco             89
Steals:
1.       Shayla Dean, Colo-Nesco           161
2.       Lexi Ackerman, Central Lyon     130
3.       Taylor Hickey, Burlington ND     129
4.       Morgan Myers, Burlington ND   107
5.       Jill Vanderhoof, Villisca                104
6.       Megan Ehlers, ArWeVa                100
7.       Paige Danner, ArWeVa                 94
Three Point Baskets:
1.       Courtney Coffin, Burlington ND      65
2.       Brittany Stoelk, ArWeVa                  52
3.       Madison Eley, Colo-Nesco               44
4.       Kristen Weber, Earlham                   43
5.       Taiyler Schrank, Newell Fonda        39
6.       Renee Maneman, Newell Fonda    39
7.       Taylor Hickey, Burlington ND          38
 

 


 


Monday, February 18, 2013

On...To...State!!!


The Colo-Nesco girls are going back to the state tournaments for the first time since 2005. 

In a rubber match with Meskwaki, the Royals left no doubt who the better team was, destroying the Warriors, 57-36.  Colo-Nesco enters the state tournament with a record of 23-2, with the two losses coming to West Marshall (currently ranked #8 in Class 2a) and Meskwaki.  The Royals are undefeated this season on the road and on neutral courts, something that should serve them well next week at Wells Fargo Arena.

Tonight's win was a perfect reflection of what has made this team so successful this season: A combination of spectacular defense and the ability for one of seven different players to step up and lead the way offensively on any given night.  In fact, over the last ten games, six different players have led the team in scoring: Haley Stoeffler, Caitlyn Riese (3 times), Shayla Dean (2 times), Madison Eley (2 times), Madison Farren, and Samantha Riese.

Sophomore forward Samantha Riese picked the right night to have the best game of her young Royals career, coming off the bench to lead the Royals in scoring tonight, a night when her older sister Caitlyn got into foul trouble in the first half.  The inside trio of Samantha and Caitlyn Riese, along with Madison Farren, set the stage for the Royals early.  Their size was simply too much for Meskwaki to handle.  The Royals led 14-9 at the end of the first quarter; 25-15 at half time; 38-19 at the end of the third quarter. 

Defensively, the Royals coaching staff drew up a gem of a game plan, holding Meskwaki's sharp shooters Dia Keahna and Tiana Thompson in check all night.  They had no easy looks and no answer for Coach Cafferty's defensive scheme.  Meskwaki's 36 points were the fewest they scored the entire season.

Even on a night when the Royals missed a lot of chip-shots, turned the ball over a little too often, and didn't hit a single three-pointer, they proved that stifling defense and good teamwork on offense can beat a top ten team in Class 1A. 

Now, it gets really exciting.  The Royals are one of the final 8 teams left in the state.  The action all starts next Monday, and I'll have a complete State Tournament Preview later this week.  A HUGE CONGRATULATIONS TO THE COLO-NESCO GIRLS!



Friday, February 15, 2013

Royals Onto Substate

BGM's defense shook us.  And it rattled us.  But midway through the second quarter, it was the Royals that went on a roll to finally take the lead, thanks in part to a slew of three-point baskets (two by Shelby Anthony and one by Madison Eley).  It was a lead the Royals would never surrender. 

Kayleen Beck and the Bears' defense was "as advertised," but through four quarters, the Royals defense was even better.  BGM jumped to a 16-14 lead at the end of the first quarter, but the Royals defense clamped down, and the lid finally came off the basket for Colo-Nesco as they used several three-pointers to take a 30-26 lead at the half.

The lead grew to 47-36 by the end of the third quarter, and, despite point guard Shayla Dean battling foul trouble and eventually fouling out, BGM was never able to pull close in the fourth quarter.  The Royals advance to the substate game in Newton on Monday night with a 62-49 win.

The rubber match is set.  It will be Colo-Nesco vs. Meskwaki for the right to go to the state tournament at Wells Fargo Arena.  Meskwaki handed the Royals one of their two losses on the season, but Colo-Nesco exacted revenge on the Warriors home court the final game of the regular season to secure the conference championship. 

This is a special team.  A well-balanced, defensive-minded team that deserves a trip to Des Moines.  With a record of 22-2, it's already one of the better teams in Colo-Nesco history.  Let's hope the exciting story of the 2012-13 Royals is just beginning...

Tuesday, February 5, 2013

CONFERENCE CHAMPS!!!


BY ANDREW GOGERTY
WOW.

WOW.  WOw. Wow.

Trailing by 1 point, with 15 seconds left, and the conference championship on the line, Royals point guard Shayla Dean advanced the ball up the court, split two defenders, and drove the ball inside the lane, laying it off the glass and into the hoop with 5 seconds to go, giving the Royals the game-winning basket in one of the most sensational girls high school basketball games I’ve ever seen.

This game had it all.  #8 Meskwaki versus #9 Colo-Nesco.  Conference title on the line.  20th win of the season on the line.  A hostile environment (to say the least)!  The fourth quarter alone saw a four-point play, three ties, and NINE lead changes.  It was one of the top three or four Royals girls basketball games I’ve ever watched, ranking right near the top with the 1989 substate win over South Hamilton and some of the Jodi Beavers, Collins-Maxwell-Baxter slugfests.

Colo-Nesco led 14-11 after the first quarter, blossoming the lead to as high as 16 points with two minutes to play in the first half.  Haley Stoeffler continued her torrid shooting, scoring 11 crucial points in the first half.  But it was the play of Meskwaki’s Dia Keahna that nearly did in the Royals.  Keahna had 16 points in the first half and her three-point shooting, along with Tiana Thompson’s brought the Warriors all the way back in the second half.  I don’t know how many three-pointers Meskwaki hit, but it had to be something like 12 out of 20.  THEY COULD NOT MISS. 

Meskwaki tied the game with 30 seconds left in the third quarter and took its first lead with 7:30 to go in the ball game.  As mentioned earlier, it was back-and-forth from there, with one of the biggest plays coming with 1:30 to go in the game.  The Royals were up by one, 62-61, when Keahna hit another three-point basket, AND WAS FOULED.  She made the free throw to complete the four-point play (she finished with either 29 or 33 points) and the Royals were down three.  Colo-Nesco  trimmed the lead with 1 minute to play, 65-64 before Meskwaki and the Royals traded baskets again with Meskwaki leading 67-66.  After fouling with 15 seconds to go, Meskwaki missed the front end of a one and one.  That’s when Dean drove the length of the floor for the game-winner with 5 seconds left.  On the inbounds play, Meskwaki turned the ball over, stepping on the out of bounds line with three seconds to go.  Madison Farren then made one of two free throws, giving the Royals a two-point lead with 2 seconds to go.  Meskwaki couldn’t get a shot off; Game over.  Royals win 69-67.

Caitlyn Riese had one of the finest games of her career, scoring 18 points, many of which came during that ferocious fourth quarter.  Shayla Dean, a 5'2 sophomore, continues to play with the heart and leadership of a 6' senior.  The Royals finish as Conference Champs, ending the regular season with a record of 20-2.

There’s not much time for celebration, though.  A new season starts next week with tournament action beginning February 12th in Colo.  The Royals need three wins to advance to the state tournament.  If the Royals advance to the substate game, the likely opponent would be…Meskwaki.