Rams fall in state quarterfinals

Glenwood's season came to an end in Tuesday's state quarterfinals with a 57-39 loss to Dallas Center-Grimes.

A suffocating defensive effort and a 13-2 third quarter run by top ranked Dallas Center-Grimes was too much for Glenwood to overcome in the Class 4A quarterfinals at the Iowa State Girls Basketball Tournament today.

The Mustangs held Rams’ leading scorer Jenna Hopp to 11 points with a box-and-one defense and came out after halftime to hit six of their first 8 shots to turn a 10-point halftime lead into a 57-39 win at Wells Fargo Arena.

Glenwood coach Brian Rasmussen credits the Mustangs’ preparation for their success on the defensive end in the game and in particular on Hopp, who entered leading the Class 4A field in scoring at 24 points per game.

“We had a hard time getting the ball to her and getting what we wanted out of it,” Rasmussen said. “They certainly scouted a lot of our box-and-one sets and some of the new stuff we put in. Earlier in the year, we would have lost our poise in that situation but for the most part we got good lucks. We just weren’t able to knock them down.”

The Rams got off to a slow start but seemed to recover by the end of the first frame. After opening the game 2-of-9 from the field with four turnovers in the first six minutes, they trailed 12-5 but they settled in to make it 12-10 after a quarter.

DCG led by as many as 11 in the second but with the score 23-17 with 2:33 to go in the first half, the Rams had the ball and a chance to cut into the lead. But a clean look on a three-pointer from the top of the key went in and out and the Rams didn’t score again to close out the half. 

Dallas Center-Grimes’ box-and-one successfully kept the ball out of Hopp’s hands for long periods of the first half. She was 3-of-7 from the field and scored six points in the opening 16 minutes.

The Rams also deployed an unconventional defense of their own against the Mustangs: a triangle-and-two with Neyla Nanfito and Danika Arnold face-guarding top scorers, Emma Miner and Finley Fitzgerald. The scheme appeared to confuse the Mustangs at times in the first half. The Mustang duo combined for 12 first half points but had to work for everyone.

But in the second half, DCG appeared to adjust, finding more gaps in the Rams’ defense to get baskets at the rim and the momentum.

“We had to do something different for what we wanted to do,” Rasmussen said. “It probably gave us the best chance. Unfortunately, they were too deep. But Neyla and Danika did a tremendous job on those two (Miner and Fitzgerald). They just had too many people knock down shots and get to the hoop.” 

DCG scored the first eight points of the third quarter as part of a decisive 13-2 run. Vanessa Bickford’s layup with 3:20 to go in the quarter gave them a commanding 40-19 lead.

“They made good adjustments on the offensive side, and it created defensive issues for us,” Rasmussen said. “We had to change our defense and try some different things and some different defenses to give them different looks and maybe we weren’t as prepared for those as we were with what we ran in the first half.”

The Mustangs lead swelled to as many as 24 in the fourth quarter. The Rams briefly cut it to 16 but could get no closer.

Hopp finished with 11 points on 5-of-15 shooting. She did grab 14 rebounds and a pair of steals. Kate Hughes also scored 11 points, hitting 3-of-6 from behind the arc. Arnild chipped in eight points.

Fitzgerald topped the Mustangs with 17 points.

While Dallas Center-Grimes moves on to face the winner of Ballard vs. Decorah in Thursday’s state semifinals, the Rams head home after capping a season in the state tournament for the fourth straight season.

“I told the girls in the locker room, they’ve helped create a new expectation for Glenwood girls basketball,” Rasmussen said. “It’s not just about winning a game in the postseason or reaching a regional final, its playing and winning at the state tournament. 

“I know they’re really bummed to not get a victory here like they have been able to do the last three years, but it’s awesome to have been a part of raising expectations. Not a lot of people gave them a fighting chance to be here, and they played hard to the end.”

Glenwood closes its season with a record of 16-9.

The Opinion-Tribune

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