Spartans survive, head to state semis

Grundy Center's Kylie Willis (35) screams in celebration as the Grundy Center girls basketball bench rushes the floor after the Spartans' 46-45 win in a 2A quarterfinal matchup in Des Moines. (Jake Ryder/The Grundy Register)

DES MOINES – Hailey Wallis and the Grundy Center girls basketball team had to endure what she called, "the longest eight seconds ever."

 

Iowa City Regina had three opportunities at a game-winner on an inbounds play underneath the basket in a Class 2A state quarterfinal at Wells Fargo Arena in Des Moines as the seconds slowly ticked away.

 

Each potential Spartan heartbreaker eluded the bottom of the net, and when those long, agonizing eight seconds finally came to an end, all the Spartans could do was scream with joy.

 

Grundy Center lived to fight another day, 46-45 winners over the state-veteran Regals and advancing to Friday's semifinal matchup at 10 a.m. with top-seeded Treynor.

 

"You've got to have a little luck sometimes," Wallis admitted. "But we've earned this position to be in the semifinals, and it's awesome."

 

Grundy Center's biggest lead of the night was with 4:56 left in the game, leading 40-34, but Regina fired back with two 3-pointers to edge closer, followed by five points from Mary Crompton, who finished with a game-high 20 points, to close the gap to 46-45 with 1:25 remaining.

 

"(Crompton) was kicking our butts," Spartan coach Matt Lindeman said. "We wanted to make it hard on her but she was getting after it. … I'm just really proud of how resilient these girls are and I'm really proud of our great post play tonight."

 

What ensued was an incredible stalemate in the final two minutes as both teams looked for any kind of breathing room underneath suffocating defenses.

 

"We wanted to beat their pressure by pressuring them," Kylie Willis said. "We just knew we had to keep going and have confidence."

 

Every Spartan that checked into the game on Tuesday night scored, with Willis and Brooke Flater leading the way with 12 and 11 points, respectively, as the Spartans were gradually able to take advantage of Regina's lacking post presence after the Regals lost 5-11 junior Alex Wiese to a season-ending ACL injury over the weekend.

 

 

Regina, making its fourth-consecutive state appearance, wasn't going to let Grundy Center go without a fight, and the teams exchanged the lead five times throughout the seesaw battle.

 

The Regals' biggest lead was at 8-3 in the first 90 seconds of the game. The Spartans battled back to a 12-11 advantage at the end of the first quarter and from there the war was on.

 

Entering Tuesday night's game with high amounts of self-confidence was one thing for the Spartans, but putting it in action was much, much sweeter for players like Flater.

 

"We've never been here but we knew once we got here that we were going to make the most of it," Flater added. "It's another game that we've dreamed of since we were third graders."

 

Treynor will be yet another tough test for the Spartans, but Lindeman trusts the group of girls that he'll go into the trenches with on Friday morning.

 

"We're gonna learn a lot more after watching film," Lindeman started, "but it's so much a mental game now, and we're very fortunate to have smart and tough-minded girls. We'll get ourselves ready to go."

 

GC                   12 11 12 11—46

ICR                  11 11 12 11—45

   GC–Hailey Wallis 3 1-2 8, Maddie McMartin 1 0-0 2, Sydney Mathews 1 1-1 3, Kylie Willis 5 2-5 12, Brooke Flater 5 1-1 11, Reegan Zinkula 2 0-0 5, Sarah Lindeman 1 0-0 2, Cora Saak 1 0-0 3. Totals 19-39 5-9 46.

   ICR–Mary Crompton 8 2-3 20, Alexa Lehman 1 0-0 3, Lauren Gaarde 0 0-0 0, Greyson Dumont 6 0-0 13, Kennedy Wallace 2 0-0 6, Elly Gahan 1 1-2 3, Katie Dunn 0 0-0 0. Totals 18-47 3-5 45.

   3-pointers: GC 3 (Wallis, Zinkula, Saak); ICR 6 (Crompton 2, Wallace 2, Lehman, Dumont). Rebounds: GC 24 (Willis 9, Flater 5, Wallis 4, Mathews 2, Zinkula 2, McMartin, Team); ICR 25 (Crompton 6). Assists: GC 12 (McMartin 3, Mathews 2, Willis 2, Flater 2, Wallis 2, Saak); ICR 9 (Gaarde 3). Steals: GC 6 (Wallis 3, Lindeman 2, Saak); ICR 10 (Gaarde 6). Blocks: GC (Flater 2); ICR 0. Fouls: GC 9.