DES MOINES – There weren’t a lot of style points awarded in No. 4 Colo-Nesco’s Class 1A state quarterfinal game with No. 6 Lynnville-Sully Monday.
The game was a defensive struggle filled with sloppy stretches of play on both ends. But that mattered little to the Royals, as gritty defense and the heroics of senior Caitlyn Riese on offense lifted them to a 38-34 victory at Wells Fargo Arena.
"Lynnville-Sully plays good, physical defense," Colo-Nesco head coach Wayne Cafferty said. "We knew Jerry (Hulsing’s) kids will do that because he’s a good coach – he’s got some state championships for a reason. We just had to fight through the physical play and make some plays."
Colo-Nesco led 14-11 at the half. The Royals took control of the game in the third quarter, but Lynnville-Sully patiently chipped away at the Royal lead.
With two minutes, eight seconds left in the fourth quarter, the game was knotted at 34-34. Colo-Nesco had seen a 32-25 lead evaporate as Lynnville-Sully’s Madison Rasmusson and Becca Vos combined to hit three consecutive 3-pointers – the only 3-pointers the Hawks made all game.
But with the game and her team’s season on the line, Riese was money for the Royals.
With 2:08 to go in the fourth, Riese was fouled and hit the first of two free throws to put Colo-Nesco on top. After a big defensive stop, senior forward Madison Farren got the ball along the baseline and fed a perfect pass into Riese.
Riese went up strong and converted a basket to put the Royals up 37-34 with 1:23 left.
"We have really great teamwork together," Riese said of her and Farren. "I don’t know if it’s just from playing together so long or what, but we just know where each other are going to be and how to pass it just right to set each other up."
Lynnville-Sully then turned the ball over trying to get it in bounds after Riese’s basket. Colo-Nesco was able to milk 29 seconds off the clock before Shayla Dean was fouled with 54 seconds left.
Dean missed the front end of a one-and-one, but on Lynnville-Sully’s next possession, Rasmusson was off on a 3-pointer in her attempt to tie the game. Dean missed another one-and-one shot with 26 seconds to go, giving Lynnville-Sully one last chance.
But Farren came up with a huge steal with five seconds left. Dean then iced the game with a free throw.
It was hard for Colo-Nesco to find its rhythm for most of the game when Dean – an all-state player – spent a large chunk of time on the bench saddled with three fouls. But Riese provided a crutch the Royals were able to lean on all game.
Riese scored all but two of her team’s points in the first half. She finished with 19 points, 13 rebounds, three steals and one block and also helped hold leading Hawk scorer Cassie Cullen to a dismal 4 of 21 shooting night.
"If it’s possibly your last game you’ve got to lay it all out there," Riese said. "That was my mentality through the whole thing."
Reserve guard Hannah Buseman also came up big for Colo-Nesco.
After Lynnville-Sully had rallied to take a 23-22 lead through three quarters, Buseman followed up a Farren basket with a clutch 3-pointer to give Colo-Nesco a 27-23 lead. A few minutes later after the Hawks closed within 32-31, Buseman hit another timely basket – this time a long 2-pointer from the baseline.
"I can shoot, but sometimes I don’t," Buseman said. "When there are five players on the court, all of them have to be able to shoot. I needed to start shooting more."
Buseman finished with five points and three assists.
Dean ended up with seven points, five assists and two steals. It may not have been her best outing, but Dean was more than happy with how things turned out.
"You can stop one player, but you can’t stop all of us," Dean said. "Hannah was stepping up, Muck (Makaelyn Neuendorf) was driving and Caitlyn was big. It feels good to keep moving on."
Farren had five points and seven rebounds and Neuendorf chipped in two points and six rebounds for the Royals. Colo-Nesco will take a 24-1 record into Wednesday night’s semifinal game versus No. 1 Newell-Fonda (23-2).
"It’s going to be tough," Cafferty said. "But we get to play. That’s all that counts."
Lynnville-Sully finished 21-4. Lysandra James had 11 points and eight rebounds, Cullen finished with eight points and nine boards, Rasmusson chipped in six points and Vos added five points, six rebounds and three assists for the Hawks.
Colo-Nesco 38, Lynnville-Sully 34
L-S 4 7 12 11 – 34
C-N 8 6 8 16 – 38
Lynnville-Sully (34) – Becca Vos 2-3 0-1 5, Jade Van Rees 0-3 0-0 0, Cassie Cullen 4-21 0-0 8, Lindsay Terpstra 1-8 0-2 2, Lysandra James 4-7 3-4 11, Madison Rasmusson 2-6 0-0 6, Kasiah Ehresman 0-0 0-0 0, Rachel Van Wyk 1-4 0-0 2. Totals: 14-52 3-7 34. 3-point field goals (3): Rasmusson 2, Vos. Rebounds (35): Cullen 9. Assists (9): Vos 3. Steals (13): Vos 5. Blocks (1): Cullen.
Colo-Nesco (38) – Madison Farren 2-7 1-1 5, Shayla Dean 2-4 2-7 7, Melanie Van Loon 0-4 0-0 0, Makaelyn Neuendorf 1-5 0-0 2, Caitlyn Riese 9-19 1-2 19, Leah Vincent 0-0 0-0 0, Hannah Buseman 2-4 0-0 5, Tabitha Halferty 0-0 0-0 0. Totals: 16-43 4-10 38. 3-point field goals (2): Dean, Buseman. Rebounds (35): Riese 13. Assists (11): Dean 5. Steals (11): Riese 3. Blocks (2): Neuendorf, Riese.