Close-knit Spartans run away from Belle Plaine in 1A regional quarterfinals
MAXWELL – Nothing like a little Taco Bell to motivate a run to the girls’ state basketball tournament.
Behind another brilliant shooting display from senior Brooke Christie the 12th-ranked Collins-Maxwell girls’ basketball team toyed with a good Belle Plaine team in the Class 1A regional quarterfinals Tuesday in Maxwell.
The Spartans (21-1) nearly defeated a 15-8 Plainsman team by 50 points, rolling into the regional semifinals with a 73-27 victory.
After the game, Collins-Maxwell senior Reagan Franzen promised Christie she’d treat her to Taco Bell.
“It’s our thing,” Franzen said.
Then she went a step further.
“We get to the regional final, Taco Bell for everybody,” Franzen said. “I won’t be paying for it. Coach (Justin) Flaws will be.”
Christie followed up five 3-pointers in a regional first-round victory over GMG last Thursday with a career-high seven 3-pointers against Belle Plaine. She scored a game-high 21 points against the Plainsmen and added three assists.
“My coach just tells me to shoot with confidence and the atmosphere just gets everybody hyped,” Christie said. “He (Flaws) always says that seniors step up at the end of the season. If we lose, we’re done, and I realize that now.”
Christie ended up 7 of 13 from downtown. She made three long bombs in the first half and four more in the second.
“Brook is starting to knock them down,” Franzen said. “We all went crazy tonight.”
Franzen had 17 points herself. She also pulled down seven rebounds, dished out seven assists and blocked three shots.
Erica Houge also scored 17 points for Collins-Maxwell. The freshman got most of her points in transition and even broke out a Euro step to get by a Belle Plaine player for a basket in the second half.
“There was a girl in front of me and I just tried getting around her,” Houge said. “It happened to be a Euro step I guess. I had not been able to do it, but I guess I can.”
Houge’s older sister Alexis added nine points, six assists and four steals.
Collins-Maxwell was also able to empty its bench early and often. Four other Spartans entered the scoring column and the five players who didn’t score still made positive contributions.
“(Flaws) said something before the game that if we get all 13 girls in we’ll either be up by a lot or down by a lot,” Franzen said. “It’s always a big thrill to have a running clock, especially in a regional game. It’s so surreal.”
Franzen said it’s great to see the Spartans peaking at the right time. She wants to keep her final season going as long as possible.
“We’re never going to have this exact same team again,” Franzen said. “It’s been a pleasure playing with everybody. We’re all so happy for each other. When the bench gets in we go wild.”
But things are fixing to get a lot tougher on Thursday. Collins-Maxwell goes up against 15th-ranked Baxter (20-2) in the regional semifinals.
The two close rivals split during the regular season.
Baxter handed Collins-Maxwell its only loss on Feb. 2 at Baxter, 57-48. Four days later in a makeup game at Maxwell the Spartans returned the favor in a big way, routing the Bolts by a 64-42 score.
“This season just means so much to us,” Christie said, “If we shoot like we did tonight we’ll be ok.”
And perhaps one step closer to Coach Flaws paying for Taco Bell.
“He doesn’t even suspect a thing right now,” Franzen said.
The 1A regional semifinal game between Collins-Maxwell and Baxter will tip-off at 7 p.m. Thursday in Baxter.