AGWSR girls' season ends in state quarterfinals

The AGWSR girls basketball team holds up their state quarterfinalist trophy after a loss to Exira-EHK on Wednesday in Des Moines. (Jake Ryder/The Grundy Register)

DES MOINES – The AGWSR girls basketball team had to face the music on Wednesday afternoon: A stellar season was going to end before the Cougars were ready.


In the aftermath of Exira-Elk Horn/Kimballton's 57-47 win over AGWSR in a Class 1A state quarterfinal, the Cougars kept their chins up, with the mindset to be motivated for what comes next.


"This experience was amazing, there's no words to explain it," AGWSR junior Taryan Barrick said. "Next year, we have a chance to come back and we want to come back, we want to be here."


AGWSR's season ended at 21-3 after making the school's fifth appearance at the state tournament. Mandy Willems led the Cougars with 14 points and eight rebounds. Barrick and Rachel Sicard added eight points each and Aubrie Fisher scored seven points with five assists.


After a back-and-forth battle for three quarters, the Spartans pulled away in the fourth quarter as offensive opportunities dried up for AGWSR. Exira-EHK hammered the ball into senior star Sophia Peppers all afternoon long but especially in the final stanza, resulting in a 14-of-16 performance from the free-throw line and a game-high 24 points for Peppers.


"We had way too much of Peppers today," AGWSR coach Laurie Gann said. "She's a whale of a ballplayer and we didn't have an answer for her with our matchups."


AGWSR's Alyssa Hames tied the game at 43-all with 4:27 left, but Peppers grabbed her own rebound for a basket-and-one on the other side and Kealey Nelson, who scored 18 points for the Spartans, picked Willems' pocket for an easy bucket and quickly put Exira-EHK ahead five with 3:45 left in the game.


From there, Exira-EHK scored nine of the next 11 points in the game, and finished 11 of 15 from the charity stripe in the final quarter. On the opposite end, AGWSR hit 3 of 12 field goal attempts in the final quarter, including 0-for-5 from 3-point range.


"We played well for maybe three-and-a-half quarters," Gann said. "Then some fatigue set in, we had some mental mistakes. … But our kids came in here and fought and if we had a few bounces another way it could've easily been a little closer."


The full story will be in the Mar. 8 Grundy Register.



AGWSR           13 14 11  9  —47

Exira-EHK       12 14 14 17—57

   AGWSR–Ally Finger 2 0-0 5, Mandy Willems 4 4-4 14, Aubrie Fisher 3 0-0 7, Taryan Barrick 4 0-0 8, Rachel Sicard 3 2-3 8, Alyssa Hames 2 0-0 4, Tori Brandt 0 0-0 0, MaKenna Kuper 0 1-2 1, Whitanie Nederhoff 0 0-0 0. Totals 18-51 7-9 47.

   E-EH/K–Tatum Grubbs 1 1-2 4, Ellie Schultes 1 0-0 3, Kealey Nelson 6 6-8 18, Sophia Peppers 5 14-16 24, Kamryn Waymire 2 0-0 6, Leslie Caniglia 1 0-0 2. Totals 16-43 21-26 57.

   3-pointers: A 4 (Willems 2, Fisher, Finger); E 4 (Waymire 2, Schultes, Grubbs). Rebounds: A 27 (Willems 8, Sicard 6, Hames 3, Kuper 3, Barrick 2, Fisher 2, Finger 2, Team); E 35 (Peppers 9, Nelson 8). Assists: A 11 (Fisher 5, Willems 2, Finger, Sicard, Hames, Kuper); E 10 (Peppers 4). Steals: A 10 (Willems 2, Sicard 2, Kuper 2, Fisher, Barrick, Hames, Nederhoff); E 10 (Peppers 5). Blocks: A 2 (Willems, Hames); E 3 (Nelson 2, Grubbs). Fouls: A 21, E 10. Fouled out: A (Finger)