Seventh-ranked Regina Hangs on to Defeat West Branch 58-50 in 2A Regional Semifinal


Pat Harty

Your Prep Sports

IOWA CITY – Regardless of the sport, the rivalry between Regina and West Branch almost always delivers from a competitive standpoint.

That was the case again on Friday in girls basketball as seventh-ranked Regina withstood a furious comeback back by West Branch to prevail 58-50 in a Class 2A regional semifinal at Regina.

The Regals led 30-12 midway through the second quarter and 48-34 early in the fourth quarter when West Branch started chopping away at the deficit behind the shooting of sisters Tatum and Sasha Koenig.

They combined to score all 16 of West Branch’s points in the fourth quarter, including 11 from younger sister, Sasha, whose final basket of the game trimmed the lead to 54-50 with less than one minute remaining.

All-state guard Mary Crompton then secured the victory for Regina by making four consecutive free throw attempts in the final 32.8 seconds.

Regina made 13-of-15 free throw attempts as a team.

“We survived,” said Regina coach Jeff Wallace. “West Branch played their tails off and Tatum Koenig didn’t want to go down without a fight, and she was amazing. But the whole team was amazing. (Sasha Koenig) was amazing. I mean she just kept attacking. She didn’t want to see her sister’s season stop and she fought for her. But the whole West Branch team just fought really hard.

“But I was really happy with our kids and their tremendous effort. West Branch knows us really well and we know them well. So we knew it was going to be a grind-it-out game.”

Regina improved top 20-4 on the season and will face Danville at 7 p.m. on Monday at Highland with a berth to the state tournament on the line.

West Branch finished the season 17-7, and the loss also marked the end to Tatum Koenig’s illustrious career. She scored 24 points despite picking up her fourth foul with 3 minutes, 46 seconds left in the third quarter.

Koenig was called for her fourth foul while trying to make a play on defense.

“It’s happened before,” West Branch coach Jarod Tylee said of Tatum Koenig being in foul trouble. “She’s being aggressive and trying to do good things for our team. I wish it would have come a little later in that quarter, but that’s how she plays and that’s what we need from her.”

Regina junior center Alex Wiese also was aggressive throughout Friday’s game, especially on the glass. She finished with a game-high 26 points, scoring 13 points in each half. She also had a double-double by halftime with 12 rebounds and she scored her 1,000th career point on Friday.

“A lot of it is just hustle and checking out and going to find the ball,” Wiese said of her success on the boards.

Wiese had five offensive rebounds in the first quarter alone.

“I really like to rebound,” she said. “That’s kind of my thing.”

Wiese also scored 10 of Regina’s first 13 points in the game.

“Anyone that hasn’t seen her play, she’s a lot fun to watch,” Wallace said of Wiese. “She’s just relentless in her pursuit of the basketball. And we felt like that was an advantage for us and we were going to get her some touches.

“And at the same time, she gets her own touches, too. I’m just really proud of the kids’ collective effort and we’re moving on.”

Tylee, on the other hand, had a locker room filled with tears as his players tried to deal with not only losing to a rival in the playoffs, but also the end to Tatum Koenig’s record-breaking career.

“She’s just phenomenal,” Tylee said of Koenig, who will play basketball for Bradley in college. “She’s helped turn our program into where it is today. We’re hopefully winning 15-plus games a year and she’s been a huge part in turning our program around.

“I just told her in the locker room, she’s made girls who were okay with playing basketball into loving the game of basketball.”

Tatum Koenig was one of the final players from her team to emerge from the locker room after the game. West Branch’s all-time leading scorer was greeted by a large group of fans who waited to show their appreciation.

“It’s certainly tough,” Tatum Koenig said of the loss. “High school basketball has been my life. Basketball is my life. But I’m going to miss more the players and the people who I was playing with.”

Koenig was proud of her team for not folding after Regina had built an 18-point lead.

“That just show how tough each one of those players out there was to not mentally lose it and just know that we can come back,” Tatum Koenig said.

Friday’s loss almost seemed like the passing of the torch from Tatum Koenig to Sasha Koenig, who is just a freshman. Sasha scored nine consecutive points for West Branch in the fourth quarter.

“I couldn’t be any more proud of her,” Tatum Koenig said of her sister. “She really stepped up tonight.”

Regina only had four players who scored in Friday’s game. Crompton finished with 16 points, while Greyson Dumont and Kennedy Wallace chipped in with eight apiece.

Wallace was optimistic about Regina’s chance of hanging on with Crompton shooting free throws down the stretch. The Illinois State recruit made all six of her free throws in Friday’s game, all of which came in the final 55.3 seconds.

“We wanted to get it in her hands and we trust her,” Wallace said. “She’s confident going to the line and we wanted to keep it in her hands as much as possible.”

West Branch   12    7  15  16  – 50

Regina            19   14  10 15  – 58

West Branch (50) – Tatum Koenig 9-18 2-2 24, Madison Luneckas 0-0 0-0 0, Kaiya Luneckas 0-0 0-0 0, Taya Young 3-12 0-0 8, Sasha Koenig 6-10 0-0 13, Abbey Fryauf 1-2 0-0 2, Taylor Thein 1-4 0-0 3, Bridget Buol 0-0 0-0 0, Riley Vaughan 0-1 0-0 0, Lexie Peak 0-0 0-0 0, Rylan Drucker 0-0 0-0 0. Totals 20-47 2-2 50.

Regina (58) – Mary Crompton 4-11 6-6 16, Lauren Gaarde 0-2 0-1 0, Greyson Dumont 3-6 1-1 8, Kennedy Wallace 3-6 0-0 8, Alex Wiese 10-17 6-7 26, Alexa Lehman 0-4 0-0 0, Katie Dunn 0-0 0-0 0, Elly Gahan 0-2 0-0 0. Totals 20-48 13-15 58.

3-point goals – West Branch 8 (Tatum Koenig 4, Taya Young 2, Sasha Koenig, Taylor Thein; Regina 5 (Mary Crompton 2, Kennedy Wallace 2, Greyson Dumont). Fouls – West Branch 17, Regina 8.