DES MOINES — Megan Ehlers made a compelling case to be the hero of the game.
When the Ar-We-Va senior swished her 3-point try from the left wing with 30 seconds left, the Rockets had climbed the mountain. Trailing by 16 in the first half and 15 with less than 13 minutes to play, fourth-rated Ar-We-Va grabbed its first lead at 52-50.
Fouled with 9.2 seconds left, Bellevue Marquette’s Blake Banowetz missed the first of two shots. She missed the second, but Sarah Lampe grabbed the rebound and missed. Banowetz snared the offensive board and tied the game with four seconds left, forcing overtime.
Danielle Bender opened the extra session with two straight baskets, and No. 13 Marquette went on to a 65-57 Class 1-A state quarterfinal win Monday at Wells Fargo Arena, reducing Ehlers’ dramatic basket to a mere footnote.
“Going into the overtime, I really felt good about it,” Ehlers said. “It didn’t turn out the way we wanted it to, but I still love my team.”
Marquette improved to 17-6 and will meet No. 2 Newell-Fonda (23-2) in Wednesday’s 8:30 p.m. semifinal. Ar-We-Va, making its third straight state appearance and fourth overall, closes at 21-4, with all of its losses coming to state qualifiers.
After a miserable 7-of-35 first half, Ar-We-Va still trailed 38-23 with 4:50 left in the third period. But then senior Brittany Stoelk sank a 3, and junior guard Paige Danner sparked the Rockets’ comeback.
The 5-7 Danner scored nine points, and five others found the scoring column in a 21-6 run that pulled the Rockets even at 44 on Amy Hinners’ putback with 4:35 left in regulation.
However, Ar-We-Va still trailed 50-46 with 1:05 left when Hinners missed the front end of a one-and-one. A hustling Lexie Vande Hoef forced a jump ball, giving the Rockets possession, and Danner’s long 3-pointer cut it to 50-49 with 57 seconds left.
Lampe missed two free throws, setting up Ehlers’ go-ahead 3 with 30 seconds remaining. The Rockets forced a jump ball with 14.5 seconds left, but the arrow pointed to the Mohawks. Banowetz was fouled after grabbing Bender’s miss, sending her to the line at the 9.2-second mark.
After missing the first one, Marquette coach Jim Kettmann said he did not order Banowetz to miss the second one. But the 45.7-percent foul shooter did, and it bounced to Bender, who missed a 6-footer from the right baseline. But Banowetz was there on the back side to grab it and lay it in for the tie.
“Poetic justice,” Kettmann said. “She went in hard for the ball and she used her body well. That’s a fairy-tale ending for regulation.”
Depends on your perspective.
“If we get a rebound, the game’s over,” Ar-We-Va coach Larry Siebert said. “But none of those kids ever quit, and I love them to death.”
The game was reminiscent of a 2011 semifinal between the same teams. In that one, Ar-We-Va trailed by 10 through three quarters but rallied for a 52-46 win.
“It was like déjà vu all over again,” said Marquette’s Bender, a prominent reserve on that team. “It was just the worst feeling (in 2011). Right when we won the (regional) game, I was like, ‘I hope we’re playing Ar-We-Va again.’”
In the overtime, Bender, who finished with 22 points and 17 rebounds, got the Mohawks started quickly. Trailing 60-54, Kyrsten Lampman’s third 3-pointer of the year pulled Ar-We-Va within three with 43 seconds left.
But Marquette’s Lampe, a 66-percent free-throw shooter, made a pair, and then Theresa Koos followed with a steal and two more charity shots for a seven-point lead with 28.5 seconds left.
Danner finished with 22 points and five steals, while Ehlers added 11 points and six rebounds. Both teams finished with a whopping 22 offensive rebounds.
The loss ended the high school basketball careers of starters Ehlers, Stoelk, Hinners and Vande Hoef. Their final three years ended in Des Moines.
“I’m just going to miss playing with them, being with them every day,” Ehlers said.
It also capped a trying season, after the death of former head coach Davey Kock on Sept. 26 of a degenerative brain disorder. The seniors did their best to hold it together in the postgame press conference when speaking of him.
“I’m pretty sure he’s proud of us right now,” Vande Hoef said.
Bellevue Marquette (17-6) ................. 18 12 14 8 13—65
Ar-We-Va (21-4) ................. 5 13 18 16 5—57
BM: Kelsey Tebbe 2-10 2-4 7, Theresa Koos 4-7 2-2 10, Danielle Bender 9-16 3-7 22, Sarah Lampe 1-7 6-9 8, Grace Sieverding 0-2 0-0 0, Nicole Blum 4-7 0-0 11, Blake Banowetz 1-3 5-8 7. Totals 21-52 18-30 65.
AWV: Paige Danner 7-20 6-8 22, Brittany Stoelk 2-15 0-2 6, Megan Ehlers 4-12 0-0 11, Lexie Vande Hoef 4-11 0-0 9, Amy Hinners 1-5 0-1 2, Kyrsten Lampman 2-3 0-0 5, Jenna Hausman 1-2 0-0 2, Alyssa Buren 0-1 0-0 0, Haley Wieland 0-0 0-0 0, Emily Koenck 0-0 0-0 0, Rachel Gangestad 0-0 0-0 0, Millicent Cameron 0-0 0-0 0, Katie Grothe 0-0 0-0 0. Totals 21-69 6-11 57.
3-point goals: BM 5-12 (Blum 3-4, Bender 1-1, Tebbe 1-7), AWV 9-37 (Ehlers 3-10, Danner 2-9, Stoelk 2-10, Lampman 1-2, Vande Hoef 1-5, Hausman 0-1). Total fouls: BM 13, AWV 23. Fouled out: Hinners. Technical fouls: none. Rebounds: BM 51 (Bender 17), AWV 38 (Stoelk 8, Hinners 8). Assists: BM 9 (Lampe 4), AWV 14 (Stoelk 3, Ehlers 3, Lampman 3). Steals: BM 7 (Koos 3), AWV 13 (Danner 5). Turnovers: BM 20, AWV 13.
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