Photo by Norv Coblentz
Your Prep Sports
WEST BRANCH – Playing on highly ranked teams over the past several seasons Kennedy Wallace and Samantha Greving have both grown accustomed to the pressure that comes with playing in the postseason.
Neither Greving or Wallace felt any of the past postseason stress on Wednesday.
Wallace and Greving combined for 38 points as Regina (10-10) bolted to an early lead and held on to stun West Branch 54-50 in overtime in a Class 2A, Region 5 quarterfinal in front of a boisterous crowd at West Branch.
The win was the fifth in the last six games for the Cinderella Regals which sat at 5-9 midway through January.
“We have nothing to lose,” Greving said. “We were the underdogs tonight but we knew we could play with them if we played a good game so we came out with no pressure on us and played our best game.”
Wallace scored a game-high 22 points and Greving added 16 points and eight rebounds as Regina advanced to take on eighth-ranked North Linn (19-1) in the Region 5 semifinals on Friday in Troy Mills.
“There’s no pressure,” Wallace said. “We don’t have the pressure of being a favorite but I think this game was a big confidence booster for our team to see that we can beat the good teams.”
A team with nothing to lose can be a dangerous team in the postseason. What is more dangerous is a team that is playing its best at the end of the season and Regina was both on Wednesday.
Regina closed he first quarter on a 18-2 run that ended when Wallace banked in a 30-foot runner at the buzzer.
After scoring eight points in the entire first half of a 37-28 home loss to West Branch last month Regina hit 7-of-11 field goal attempts in the first quarter and was 2-for-2 on 3-point attempts, both from Wallace.
“Getting in a good start in a tournament game is always important, they just had all kinds of enthusiasm and I just told them to have fun,” Regina coach Jeff Wallace said. “They look like they are having fun out there instead of playing with all this pressure on top of them. We said ‘we have nothing to lose so lets go out and just enjoy it’ and they looked like they had fun.”
West Branch (15-5) took its only lead of the game at 3-0 on a 3-pointer by Sasha Koenig 27 seconds into the game.
The Bears missed their next six field goal attempts after the Koenig triple and were 2-of-8 in the opening quarter while falling into a 13-point hole.
“Offensively we weren’t very good and defensively we were even worse,” West Branch coach Jarod Tylee said. “That’s about as bad of a quarter as we have played in a long time.”
West Branch steadily clawed back into the game.
It was 32-24 Regina at the half and West Branch held Regina to just three points, on a Wallace 3-pointer, in the third quarter to trim the lead to 35-32.
West Branch cut the lead to 44-43 on a Koenig 3-pointer following an offensive rebound with 47 seconds left and had a chance to win the game in the final seconds.
Wallace missed the front end of a one-and-one and Koenig was fouled going to the basket with .7 seconds left.
The sophomore hit one of two free throw attempts to send the game to overtime.
“Once she missed one and we went to overtime I had to reset my head and move on,” Kennedy Wallace said. “It was 0-0 at that point and we had to make plays.”
In overtime Wallace provided the biggest shot of the game, a 3-pointer that put Regina up for good with 2:10 left.
The senior guard was 5-of-11 from 3-point range and has six rebounds to extend her career another game.
“I’ve always said in the postseason that you have to rally behind the seniors and I thought the girls rallied behind Kennedy and she had a great performance,” Jeff Wallace said. “Seniors win in the postseason, the other girls feel that sense of urgency and they come to play and I thought that was critical tonight.”
Koenig had a team-high 16 for West Branch and sophomore Rylan Druecker had 12 points.
Mackenzie Heise had six points off the bench including the Bears’ first four points in overtime.
“The story of the game was how we fought back, that’s what I’m most proud of is our kids fought back,” Tylee said. “To force it into overtime, I’m proud of our kids. We came up short, Regina is a good basketball team, they are well coached they have good players, they always do they deserved to win tonight.”
Regina (54) – Elly Gahan 4-7 1-5 9, Annie Gahan 2-7 0-2 5, Claire Gaarde 0-4 2-2 2, Kennedy Wallace 6-15 5-7 22, Samantha Greving 6-9 3-5 16, Totals 18-42 11-21 54.
West Branch (50) – Lexie Peak 0-1 0-0 0, Sasha Koenig 5-17 1-2 16, Kaiya Luneckas 0-2 0-0 0, Taylor Thein 2-6 0-0 6, Rylan Druecker 4-10 2-2 12, Mackenzie Heise 5-9 0-0 10, Totals 18-51 5-7 50.
3-point field goals – WB 9-29 (Peak 0-1, Koenig 5-14, Thein 2-6, Young 0-3, Druecker 2-5), ICR 7-19 (A. Gahan 1-4, Gaarde 0-3, Wallace 5-11, Greving 1-1). Rebounds – WB 25 (K. Luneckas 7), ICR 39 (Gaarde 9). Turnovers – WB 13, ICR 18. Total fouls – WB 21, ICR 13. Fouled out – None. Technical fouls – West Branch Bench.