DES MOINES — Dike-New Hartford entered Friday’s Class 2A semifinal as the defending state champion, carrying a top-ranking and 23-2 record.
The Wolverines proved worthy of their plaudits, as they throttled fourth-ranked Panorama (25-2) to earn a spot in Saturday’s title game at 4:45 p.m. They will face Central Lyon (24-2), a 53-35 victor over Denver (24-3) in the other semifinal.
Panorama coach Kylee Boettcher gave full credit to D-NH, saying they “were every bit as good as we knew they would be” and said her team could be proud knowing it took the top-ranked defending champion to eliminate the Panthers.
“When we got into the locker room and before we even talked about the game I had the girls all say something they were grateful for, because there were a lot of blessings along the way for us,” Boettcher said. “There were a lot of tears, of course, but also so many things they can be proud of, accomplishments that will never be forgotten.”
Seniors Payton Beckman, Laci Rishel, Angel Poldberg and Gabby Wellburg bow out a combined 86-15 (.851) with a WCAC record of 56-4 (.9333). The 25 wins this season is a school record, and the 86-win four-year span the most successful in school history.
“I told them basketball is just a game, and is a platform for them to learn about themselves,” Boettcher said. “Our school and community support has been tremendous and I and the girls are very grateful for that.”
Adding to what Boettcher said her players called “a sense of family” has been interaction between the varsity team and younger girls in the community. Some of those girls, from junior high teams and park and rec leagues, were also able to experience the state tournament atmosphere as they have served as floor attendants throughout the event.
D-NH erupted for the first 11 points in the game, but five points from Beckman snapped a four-minute scoreless skid for Panorama, who finished a 9-0 run to trail, 11-9, after one frame.
The Wolverines began to assert themselves — especially in rebounding — in the second quarter and eventually opened a 30-15 gap at the intermission.
Neither team shot well on 3-point attempts, with the Panthers landing just 3-of-20 and the Wolverines 3-of-12. D-NH finished 12-of-16 at the free throw line and Panorama 2-of-5. For the game the Panthers were a combined 9-of-38 (24 percent) from the floor, with the Wolverines hitting 26-of-61 (43 percent) shots, the difference of 23 attempts pointing to a clear rebounding advantage.
It was, indeed, under the glass that the Panthers found themselves stymied, as D-NH posted a 43-24 edge in caroms, allowing only five offensive rebounds to Panorama.
The Panthers led 2A in steals this season but came away with only seven in Friday’s meeting while the Wolverines scored 28 points off 20 turnovers.
D-NH took over the game in the third quarter, dominating both ends of the floor in outscoring their opponent, 26-8, to generate a 56-23 gulf as the fourth frame began. Panorama did not score in the final eight minutes of play, with 11 D-NH points setting the final score.
Beckman had 14 points and will end the season third in 2A scoring with 531 points, giving her a school-record 1,682 for her career. She also had eight rebounds.
Tyme Boettcher had four points off the bench, with Rishel adding two points, as did Mia Waddle, who had three offensive rebounds. A free throw from Jaidyn Sellers — who had six boards — wrapped the Panther scoring.
Payton Petersen had 19 points and 11 rebounds and Jadyn Petersen 14 points and 10 caroms for D-NH, many of whose players have been part of back-to-back 2A state volleyball championships.
Ellary Knock had 13 points and Camille Lanphair seven, with six points form Meryn Bixby, four from Sophie Hoffmann, and two each from Miranda Tyler and Macie Graves finishing the scoring ledger. Hoffmann finished with seven assists for D-NH.
“There just wasn’t anything we could do today, and sometimes that will happen,” Boettcher said. “The most important thing is knowing we can be back next year, that we know what it takes to get here (state).”