DES MOINES - North Polk sure didn’t look like a team playing in its first state tournament in a decade when the No. 8 Comets took on No. 7 Davenport Assumption in the Class 3A quarterfinals of the girls’ state basketball tournament Tuesday.
Assumption was making its 15th trip to state and had won four state titles. But the Comets were the ones playing with the most poise and confidence, as they controlled most of the first half after a slow start — then dominated the final two quarters to post a 64-47 victory at Wells Fargo Arena in Des Moines.
“It was really fun playing out there with my best friends,” North Polk point guard Katie Scott said. “It was really cool seeing us play our best. We’ve been working really hard for it all season, so it was really fun.”
North Polk fell behind 7-2 out of the gate, but rallied to take a 15-11 lead. Assumption eventually went back on top, but with the Knights holding a 22-21 advantage, Abi Zimmer scored off a steal and Katie Brown buried a 3-pointer at the buzzer to give the Comets a 26-22 lead going into the locker room.
“It was great because my shots weren’t going down,” Brown said. “It was a good pass from her (Scott). It felt good.”
A 3-pointer from Bailey Brown got Assumption within 28-27 early in the third quarter. But then Maggie Phipps hit a 3-pointer for her first points of the game to spark a decisive 18-4 Comet run.
“After that my teammates got so excited, I was able to feed off of that,” Phipps said. “Because of that, we all fed off each other and they couldn’t really stop us.”
Phipps scored six more points during the spurt and finished with a team-high 13 points to go along with eight rebounds, three steals, two assists and one block. She capped the run with a sensational behind-the-back pass to Brown for a basket that gave North Polk a 46-31 lead with 6:44 to go in the fourth quarter.
“We do it in practice just for fun all the time,” Phipps said of her fancy assist. “Sometimes it’s not the best decision in practice, but I thought it was the perfect moment. We were planning to do that all year and tonight was the night.”
A well-rounded attack keyed North Polk’s success. Brown added 12 points and two steals and Jaedon Murphy had 11 points — nine in the first half — along with four rebounds and blocks apiece.
“I think it’s really important for all of us to be scoring in big numbers,” Brown said. “It’s hard for other teams to guard all of us at the same time.”
Scott added six points, five rebounds, three assists and one steal. Rebecca Ley was her usual workman-like self inside with seven points, six rebounds and one block, assist and steal apiece.
Carolyn Steffen and freshman Abi Zimmer gave North Polk a huge boost off the bench.
Steffen hit two big 3-pointers in the first half and finished with eight points and four rebounds. Zimmer added six points, three boards, one assist and one steal.
“Going out of the first half, you try to keep focus because you have another half left, but I was just so thrilled with how those two played,” North Polk head girls’ basketball coach Clint Albertsen said. “Carolyn had two huges 3’s today in the first half. Abi just kind of being fearless. One time I held my breath because we weren’t necessarily looking to drive and shoot a runner, but she did and she made it, so hats off to her.”
Assumption ended the season with a 16-9 record. Brown scored a game-high 18 points and added seven rebounds, Hannah Wislander had 11 points and eight rebounds and Carlye Brown netted eight points for the nights.
North Polk will take a 22-3 record into Thursday’s 3A semifinals versus No. 1 Crestwood (24-0). Crestwood whipped South Tama by a 66-28 score in the first 3A quarterfinal game Tuesday.
“We’re really excited,” Scott said. “We’re going to be putting in work at practice. We’ll be ready.”
North Polk’s game with Crestwood is set to start at 5 p.m.
North Polk 64, Davenport Assumption 47
NP 10 16 14 24 - 64
DA 9 13 9 16 - 47
North Polk (64) - Rebecca Ley 2-4 3-3 7, Katie Scott 2-4 2-2 6, Katie Brown 3-9 4-4 12, Jaedon Murphy 3-8 5-5 11, Maggie Phipps 3-11 5-7 13, Abi Zimmer 2-4 2-4 6, Danielle Bonewitz 0-0 1-3 1, Hannah Foster 0-0 0-0 0, Carolyn Steffen 2-2 2-2 8, Sydney Albaugh 0-0 0-0 0, Callie Haupert 0-1 0-0 0, Ciera McCloud 0-0 0-0 0, Maddie Bruggeman 0-0 0-0 0. Totals: 17-43 24-30 64. 3-point field goals (6): Brown 2, Phipps 2, Steffen 2. Rebounds (36); Phipps 8. Assists (9): Scott 3. Steals (8): Phipps 3. Blocks (7): Murphy 4. Fouls: 16. Fouled out: Phipps.
Davenport Assumption (47) - Bailey Brown 7-18 0-0 18, Molly Gervase 0-1 0-0 0, Carlye Brown 3-11 2-3 8, Allie Timmons 1-3 2-2 4, Hannah Wislander 2-12 7-7 11, Caroline Crosby 1-2 0-0 3, Katie Anderson 0-0 0-0 0, Lauren Herrig 0-7 1-4 1, Olivia Wardlow 0-2 2-2 2, Delaney Brown 0-0 0-0 0, Corey Whitlock 0-0 0-0 0, Grace Jacobsen 0-4 0-0 0. Totals: 14-60 14-18 47. 3-point field goals (5): B. Brown 4, Crosby. Rebounds (40): Wislander 8. Assists (6): Gervase 3. Steals (7): Gervase 2, C. Brown 2. Blocks (3): Timmons 3. Fouls: 23. Fouled out: Wislander.