Hot shooting Crusaders end Rams’ season in state semifinals

The Glenwood girls basketball team with its state semifinals trophy.

It’s often said records, stats and tendencies can be thrown out at the Iowa State Tournament.

It’s a whole new ballgame in Des Moines.

Just ask Bishop Heelan. 

The Crusaders, who entered shooting less than 30 percent from behind the arc this season, connected on 11-of-16 three pointers – 68 percent – against Glenwood in the Class 4A semifinals Thursday. They used that hot hand to key a 15-4 second quarter run that allowed them to pull away in a 68-51 win over the Rams Thursday night at Wells Fargo Arena.  

“It was super frustrating,” said Glenwood coach Brian Rasmussen of the Crusaders’ night from behind the arc. “We started in zone and went man to man, we switched, and we didn’t switch. We tried to throw some different defensive looks at them and they knocked shots down. They flat out couldn’t miss. That’s how it felt.”

That hot shooting started in the second quarter. After taking a slim 12-11 lead after the first quarter, Heelan hit all six of their threes in second frame and took a 38-25 lead into halftime.

Compounding the Rams’ inability to get stops on defense was their own offensive struggles. Leading scorers Madison Camden and Jenna Hopp – who entered averaging better than 19 points and 17 points each, respectively – combined for just six first half points.

Abby Hughes, the Rams’ third leading scorer this season, hit 3-of-5 three’s and led the way with 12 first half points. But in the third quarter, when Glenwood needed their top scorers to chip away at the Crusaders’ lead, Camden, Hopp and Hughes all went scoreless.

And Heelan took advantage. The lead swelled to as many as 19 in the third quarter.

“It’s tough to come back like that,” Rasmussen said. “Those are big time players that typically make big time plays for us. We had opportunities and we had chances and Heelan was really good. I don’t want to take that away from how we played because I thought our girls were doing the right things, trying to make plays and they (Heelan) were very disruptive to what we wanted to do.” 

Heelan played an aggressive, match-up 2-3 zone that forced the Ram wings off their spots and harassed the passing lanes. The Crusaders forced 17 turnovers, grabbed 12 steals and limited to Glenwood to 40 percent shooting on the night.

Heelan coach Darrin Koolstra said after the game he was willing to concede Hopp would get her points, but their goal was to not let Camden heat up.

“The key for us was keeping Camden from knocking down consecutive threes, as she can do,” Koolstra said. “We talked on the defensive end about knowing where she was all night. We wanted to take her shot away and we did that until the fourth quarter when shot got free for a couple.”

Camden was 0-of-6 from the field through three quarters and did not score until five minutes remained in the game. She finished with a. season-low nine points on 3-of-9 shooting.

The Rams never got closer than 13 points in the second half.

Hughes led Glenwood with 16 points. Hopp added 11 points and Brynlee Arnold chipped in five points and 11 rebounds.

Jada Newberg and Lauryn Peck scored 17 points each to lead four Crusaders in double figures. Brooklyn Stanley scored 16 and Kenley Meis 13. Heelan (23-2) will play Cedar Rapids Xavier (19-6) in Saturday’s Class 4A finals. Xavier knocked off top seeded Dallas Center-Grimes in triple overtime 55-50 to reach the title game.

The Rams close their season with a record of 20-5. In all, seven seniors suited up for the last time for Glenwood. The group compiled a record of 84-15, with three Hawkeye 10 Conference titles and three state tournament appearances in their four years.

Rasmussen said the semifinal loss, the Rams’ second in three years after falling in last year’s state finals, “flat out stinks” for his seniors.

“There’s no doubt in our minds that we wanted to have the opportunity to play on Saturday (in the championship game). We wanted to bring it home and that wasn’t in the cards tonight. A lot of that was Heelan and the way they played tonight. 

“But these seniors, three years in a row being here and then a district final in their freshman year, it’s a new game in Glenwood for Glenwood girls basketball. It’s been an awesome four years and we want to keep it going.”


The Opinion-Tribune

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