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Girls State Basketball: 'D' Switch Ignites Lawton-Bronson To Win Over Maquoketa Valley

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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 -- Lawton-Bronson changed its defense.

And with it, the complexion of the game.

The second-ranked Eagles gave No. 14 Maquoketa Valley all sorts of fits with an extended zone and sidelined the Wildcats, 59-44, in a Class 2A semifinal at the girls' state basketball tournament Thursday afternoon at Wells Fargo Arena.

"We started with a man-to-man defense, and that wasn't working," said Lawton-Bronson's Josie Kopal. "We went to a pressure zone. We were all over the court with our hands up."

Lawton-Bronson (26-1) collected 22 steals, forced 28 turnovers and advanced to the championship game.

The Eagles will face No. 1 Western Christian (25-1) for the title at 6 p.m. Friday. Western, the defending champion, ousted Aplington-Parkersburg, 64-40, Thursday.

Maquoketa Valley retired at 20-6. The Wildcats played a terrific game in the quarterfinals against IKM-Manning. And they started well again Thursday.

The Wildcats found gaps in the Eagles' man defense, soaring to a 19-15 lead. Then Kopal made a plea to Lawton-Bronson coach Trish Martin: Let's switch things up.

Martin complied, and everything changed.

"Shots weren't falling, and we started to panic," said Maquoketa Valley's Nicole Kudrna. "We're not used to getting pressed that much. They extended it, and we weren't used to that."

Lawton-Bronson took the lead midway through the second quarter, and didn't trail again.

The Eagles led 26-25 at halftime, then built an 11-point lead late in the third quarter.

Maquoketa Valley made one more push, getting within 44-40 on Heidi Hoeger's free throw with 4:29 remaining. But it ended there.

With 3:53 left, Renee Huber missed a pair of foul shots. Taylor King got behind the Wildcats defense for a layup and the lead was back to six.

Lawton-Bronson concluded the game with a 15-4 run.

"We missed too many shots," said Wildcats coach Scot Moenck. "We had a hard time getting the ball to the middle (of the court), and we didn't finish shots."

King led all scorers with 21 points, and Kopal posted 20 points and 17 rebounds.

Hoeger led the Wildcats with 12 points. Brooke Wooten scored 11, and Kudrna grabbed 11 rebounds.

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