Girls State Basketball: Western Christian Downs Aplington-Parkersburg
By Grant Burkhardt and Josh Christensen, Reporters
This game was broadcast live on KCRG 9.2, as every game of the girls and boys state basketball tournaments will be.
DES MOINES, Iowa – Clearly there was something wrong after Thursday's class 2A semifinal. There were no long faces and no tears. Both teams were happy, and the game didn't end in a tie.
Top-ranked Western Christian (25-1) trounced Aplington-Parkersburg 64-40 to advance to the state championship game for the second straight season.
But the Falcons (21-4) were all smiles as the clock ran to zero on their high school careers. The team comprised of only seniors – 12 of them – displayed the demeanor of a state champion, not a squad who fell two wins short of a title.
"I think this is the greatest way to finish off our time together," said Haleigh Hempen, who scored 11 points and nabbed six rebounds in the loss. "Us 12 seniors have been together so long. Finishing it off at state has always been a dream of ours. We can't really be sad because we did it together and we finished strong together."
You wouldn't know who lost the game by just looking into the eyes of players and coaches afterward, but Western Christian never trailed and looks poised for a second consecutive 2A title. Thursday's fast-paced performance got the Wolfpack back to the title game.
"Couldn't be happier," said WC head coach Bill Harmsen. "We've got seven seniors who have just poured themselves in to this."
Brooke Wolterstorff scored 25 points and added 10 rebounds for Western Christian, which will play the winner of Lawton-Bronson and Maquoketa Valley Friday at 6 p.m. at Wells Fargo Arena.
On five separate occasions, the Falcons scored to cut into the deficit and, every time, Western Christian answered on the ensuing possession. Four times, the Wolfpack hit threes to silence the A-P fans. Erika Douma (5 of 9 from 3-point range) hit two of those quick triples. None of the responses took more than 12 seconds.
"I would hope so," Wolterstorff said, on whether WC's pace bothered its opponent. "I know we're a fast team, and most teams try to keep up...we don't care if they score. Get it out fast and hopefully they'll be celebrating, and we can get a layup."
The reigning 2A state "Player of the Year" was spectacular from start to finish. Wolterstorff scored 10 of Western's first 14 points and added four steals to her dominating stat line. She surpassed her season scoring average (13.9) in the first 11:36 of the game.
"It's such a blessing," the 5-foot-11 forward added. "I'm so grateful that God gave us this opportunity and I can't wait to play on the floor again [Friday]."
While Wolterstorff talked of another chance to play for a state title, the losing team's coach beamed as bright as his players.
"Our goal was to win the conference tournament and get to state and everything after that was icing on the cake," Falcons' head coach Kurt Hempsen said. His team is the second Aplington-Parkersburg team to ever win a game at the state tournament, and these Falcons played at the state tournament for the first time in 12 years.
"What can I say? Twelve seniors? This is the best way to go out."