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Your Prep Sports
IOWA CITY – As the years piled up in the coaching career of Jeff Wallace the Regina coach began to notice a theme among teams that had postseason success.
The common denominator on the teams Wallace saw making deep postseason runs was experience especially in the backcourt.
“Experience is really big this time of year,” Wallace said. “I’ve always said when you have a bunch of seniors that have a lot experience it’s harder to knock that team out.”
This week Wallace is hoping that his long-time postseason theory proves to be accurate when it comes to his own team.
Seventh-ranked Regina (21-4) returns to the state tournament for the fourth consecutive season led by a trio of senior guards that combine to give the Regals a backcourt that ranks among the best and most experienced in Class 2A.
Senior guards Mary Crompton, Greyson Dumont and Lauren Gaarde will all be playing in their sixth state tournament game when Regina meets No. 8 Grundy Center (22-1) in the 2A quarterfinals on Tuesday at 8:30 p.m. at Wells Fargo Arena.
“We definitely have an advantage with all the experience we have because we know what it takes to win postseason games and we know how to handle big moments when the pressure is high,” Crompton said. “We know how to handle all of those things at this point.”
The postseason experience for Regina senior guards includes trips to the state semifinals each of the past two seasons.
After coming a game short of the 2A title game the past two seasons the trio that has been a part of 93 wins during their careers has one goal to end an impressive run at Regina.
“We know what it takes to win at state and that’s what our expectation has been this season is to win it,” Gaarde said. “We aren’t just happy to be there we want to make a difference this year when we are there. We have been there and we know what we have to do.”
When Dumont, Gaarde and Crompton joined the program as freshman four seasons ago Regina had reached the state tournament three times in program history.
That number has more than doubled thanks to the trio that has helped Regina to four consecutive 20-win seasons and a 93-10 record the past four years.
“They are winners,” Wallace said. “They have high expectations. They don’t have a goal of going to state they have bigger goals and we have some big hurdles to overcome but they have big goals.”
The Regina senior guard corps is as talented and diverse as it is experienced.
All three are four-year varsity contributors with starting experience dating back to their freshman and sophomore seasons.
Each player has its own specific strength.
“I think on any basketball team if you have a variety of skills sets within the players its hard thing to guard,” Crompton said. “I think all together it makes us a more complete team since we all have different skills.”
The all-time leading scorer in Regina history, Crompton leads the group.
A two-time first-team all-state pick the Illinois State recruit has bounced back from a knee injury that caused her to miss the first nine games of the season to average a team-high 18.3 points per game.
The 5-foot-8 Crompton is among the best shooters in the state and is shooting 45 percent from 3-point range this season.
Gaarde and Dumont share point guard duties and have combined for 193 assists against just 77 turnovers.
“Lo has really good handles, we both pass well and it’s really nice to have Mary as our shooter on the court,” Dumont said. “We all bring different things to the team so teams have guard us all differently and have to prepare for us differently.”
Dumont and Gaarde each bring their own flare to the point guard spot.
The 5-foot-7 Gaarde, a left-hander, is an athletic defender while the 5-foot-8 Dumont has gained a reputation for toughness and is averaging a career-best 7.2 points per game this season.
“They all have unique talents and abilities,” Wallace said. “Lauren is unique because she is so fast and so good defensively and she is left-handed. Greyson is just really scrappy and hard-nosed and is really starting to shoot the ball well. Mary is so crafty and can shoot the ball well but has a super high basketball IQ.”
Gaarde is averaging 2.5 points per game but leads the Regals in both assists (4.7) and steals (2.9) while Dumont adds 3.3 assists and is second on the team in rebounding at 3.3 per game.
“It’s hard to prepare for because we have different strengths on both sides of the court,” Gaarde said. “Knowing that whoever you pass the ball to they can make a great play is a good feeling.”
The biggest asset for the senior guard remains experience.
After more than 100 games together the trio has four regional finals, five state tournament games and just about every situation imaginable.
“I think we have advantage because we’ve played varsity since we’ve been freshman and we’ve experienced a lot of things throughout those four years,” Dumont said. “When you play for that long you see a lot of things so I think that gives us advantage.”
The final challenge left for the group to conquer is a state title.
That run begins on Tuesday against a Grundy Center team making its first state tournament appearance in more than a decade.
“It would be amazing to end it with a win just because that’s what we’ve been working towards our whole lives,” Gaarde said. “We’ve been playing together for so many years and we’ve always had that in the back of our minds so getting that our senior year would just be amazing.”