DES MOINES - For two quarters, North Polk outplayed the No. 1 team in Class 3A during the Class 3A semifinals at the girls’ state basketball tournament March 1.
But the Comets simply had to dig out of too big of a hole against unbeaten Crestwood, suffering a 72-48 setback at Wells Fargo Arena in Des Moines.
North Polk fell behind 7-0 in the opening minutes, closed within 12-7, then saw Crestwood go on a 16-0 run to end the first quarter. By the middle of the third quarter, it appeared the outcome was a foregone conclusion as Crestwood had stretched its lead to 36-12.
“They came out and hammered us,” Albertsen said. “They’re impressive.”
But just as North Polk looked completely outclassed, Katie Brown stepped up to give the Comets some life before halftime. Brown drained four 3-pointers in the second quarter to help her team close within 41-24 at the half.
“We didn’t want to make it easy for them,” Brown said. “We wanted to make it a good game for our seniors.”
With a little momentum coming out of the locker room, North Polk picked up its play another notch in the third quarter.
The Comets did a great job defensively early in the third quarter on Crestwood forward Shannon Pisney after she burned them for 15 points in the first half. Versatile sophomore post Jaedon Murphy then began hurting Crestwood off the dribble and inside to help the Comets slowly close the gap.
“At halftime, even though we were down 17, we just said we’re going to keep fighting and not give up,” Murphy said. “We just took it at ‘em and upped our intensity.”
Murphy opened the second half with a 3-pointer, then she fed Rebecca Ley for a basket inside. Murphy added two more baskets and Brown canned her fifth trey of the game to pull North Polk within 47-36 with 5:13 to go.
North Polk had a couple chances to close the gap even more.
After Brown’s 3-pointer North Polk made a defensive stop, only to turn the ball over. After Crestwood went up 49-36, the Comets’ Maggie Phipps had a 3-pointer fall just off the mark.
“I think there was one point we had a 3 go in and out, which would’ve made it 10 or nine maybe, I think third quarter,” Albertsen said. “That would’ve been big — just the psychological aspect of getting it (near) single digits.”
But in the end, North Polk had no answers for an amazing pitch-catch combo of Crestwood point guard Ellie Friesen and Sharon Goodman.
Friesen set a state tournament record for assists in a game with 18, most going to Goodman.
“There’s a record that I could get with my assists for a season and we joked about it — some of the girls (said) we’ll just get 20 each game,” Friesen said. “That made me laugh, because I was close to that.”
Goodman used her athletic and strong 6-2 frame to overpower a smaller Comet lineup inside, and with Friesen’s pinpoint passing, she often got the ball in prime scoring position deep in the post.
Goodman scored 10 points in the third quarter to push Crestwood’s lead back to 17 by the end of the quarter. She finished an amazing 16 of 17 from the field for the game, torching North Polk for 33 points, eight rebounds and three blocks.
“We don’t have a person-versus-person matchup for their post player,” Albertsen said. “Jaedon and others did all they could, but (Crestwood) knows how to use what they have.”
Pisney tallied 22 points, five rebounds and three assists and Emily Friesen tacked on eight for Crestwood.
Murphy led North Polk with 16 points, three rebounds, one assist and one steal and Brown finished with 15 points, three steals, two rebounds and one block. Ley capped her final season with six points, five rebounds and one steal; Phipps had five points and three rebounds; Carolyn Steffen three points and one assist and Katie Scott three points and two assists.
North Polk finished its record-setting season at 22-4. The Comets tied the school record for wins in a season and also matched the program’s best-ever finish at state.
“I just think we made a really big statement about our program,” Brown said. “It is a friendship that we’ll have forever. It’s special what we had here.”
Crestwood ended up defeating Sioux Center, 73-48, on Saturday to win the 3A state championship and finish a perfect 26-0 season.
Crestwood 72, North Polk 48
NP 7 17 16 8 - 48
C 28 13 16 15 - 72
North Polk (48) - Rebecca Ley 3-7 0-0 6, Katie Scott 1-3 0-0 3, Katie Brown 5-13 0-0 15, Jaedon Murphy 6-11 3-5 16, Maggie Phipps 2-11 0-0 5, Abi Zimmer 0-0 0-0 0, Danielle Bonewitz 0-0 0-0 0, Hannah Foster 0-0 0-0 0, Carolyn Steffen 1-1 0-2 3, Sydney Albaugh 0-1 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: 18-48 3-6 48. 3-point field goals (9): Brown 5, Scott, Murphy, Phipps, Steffen. Rebounds (18): Ley 5. Assists (5): Scott 2. Steals (5): Brown 3. Blocks (2): Brown, Phipps. Fouls: 6.
Crestwood (72) -Emily Friesen 3-4 0-1 8, Shannon Pisney 9-15 2-2 22, Brynn Bodermann 1-8 0-0 2, Ellie Friesen 3-8 0-0 7, Sharon Goodman 16-17 1-1 33, Taylor Shelton 0-0 0-0 0, Laken Lienhard 0-1 0-0 0, Kennedy Gaul 0-0 0-0 0, Kaylee Thomas 0-1 0-0 0, Annie Mast 0-1 0-0 0, Brooklyn Ferrie 0-0 0-0 0, Samantha Balk 0-0 0-0 0. Totals: 32-55 3-4 72. 3-point field goals (5): Em. Friesen 2, Pisney 2, El. Friesen. Rebounds (36): El. Friesen 11. Assists (24): El. Friesen 18. Steals (2): Pisney, Bodermann. Blocks (3): Goodman 3. Fouls: 8.