The large schools got into action Wednesday at the girls’ state tournament in Des Moines. Waterloo West beat Des Moines East 69-57 in the class 5A quarterfinal. “Great high school game, back and forth with two good teams and our team really answered the call,” West coach Tony Pappas says.
West started the 4th quarter down 43-39, but then got on a run. “You know, we’ve been a strong fourth quarter team all year long, even though we were down a player,” Pappas says. He was referring to Mikayla Stokes who as injured and couldn’t play. Pappas says this is the third straight tough game they have won in the tournament.
Waterloo West is making its first appearance at state since 2003 after several near misses. Pappas says they lost several regional finals by one point and three points and it was good to finally get over the hump. East coach Sam Powell.
“Their girls played really, really hard, our girls played hard. You know that’s the way the game goes sometimes the ball just doen’t bounce the way you want it to. We’re disappointed, however, we lost to the better team tonight,” Powell says.
Des Moines East made its fourth state appearance in five years. “We know that this is an opportunity that most people never get…most of my seniors have been here three out of four years. So, I’m very proud of that. It’s something to be proud of,” Powell says. East wraps up the season at 20-4.
Waterloo West moves on to the semifinals at 22-2 to face defending 5A champion Southeast Polk Friday at noon. The Rams won their opener 68-60 over West Des Moines Valley. Coach Tracey Dailey says it was good to get the first win on the way to another title. “I cannot be prouder of this team. I mean you coach a lot of teams and you get some wins here and there, but what this team has been through the last three weeks, and how they are playing right now and the way they are playing together as a team — I couldn’t be prouder,” Dailey says.
She says the experience of last year helped them. “It’s not new, we don’t get that hyped up for it, it’s just another game. You know, I didn’t talk about the Well all week,” Dailey says. She doesn’t think her team feels pressure to match the title of last year’s team. “No, I would say there was probably more pressure last year just for the preseason number one ranking,” Dailey says. “This year I feel like we’ve been underestimated and kind of overlooked, which is great, because we can sneek up on people and nobody expects it. We just keep talking about it’s our story and we get to determine how it ends.”
Annie Penquite and her sister Abbey combined to score 30 points for Southeast Polk. “We practice how we will want to shoot at the Well with like our baskets,” Penquite says. She says that allows them to focus on the baskets and knock down the shots.
The game with Valley featured several back and forth runs, and she says that’s something the prepare for. “We focus on when we get on runs like that on doing what we want to do. And then focusing on getting stops on defense, we try to do stop, score, stop, score,” Penquite says. West Des Moines Valley finishes the season at 22-2. Southeast Polk moves on to the semifinals at 17-6.
Iowa City High downed Cedar Rapids Kennedy 68-34. West Des Moines Dowling beat Waukee 62-56. Dowling faces Iowa City High Friday at 1:45.