Norse comeback falls short at state

Joe Randleman Staff Writer

DES MOINES — Roland-Story made its run, but Des Moines Christian’s Emma Veenstra always had answer in the Class 3A quarterfinals of the girls’ state basketball tournament Monday in Des Moines.

The Norse battled back from 11 down to get within one. But Veenstra made play after play in the final 2 ½ minutes for the Lions as they handed Roland-Story a 49-41 setback.

Roland-Story was down 40-29 early in the fourth quarter. But a three-point play by Juliann Clark sparked a 10-0 run that got the Norse within 40-39 with 2:57 left.

Reece Johnson followed Clark’s play with a 3-pointer, then Reagan Barkema hit a shot in the lane. After a Lion turnover, Barkema scored again to pull Roland-Story within 40-39.

“We’ve been in this situation before against Clear Lake (in the regional finals),” Barkema said. “We knew we had it in us and just left everything on the floor.”

Barkema and Johnson are both freshmen.

“They both just play so hard all the time,” Roland-Story head girls’ basketball coach Justin Morton said. “Reece has shown a lot of growth this year — she’s a high-motor kid. I thought she did a great job defensively, then offensively she hit a big shot for us. Reagan’s been extremely solid the second half of the season since she came back off that (lower calf) injury.”

But then Veenstra took over.

She hit a big 3-pointer with 2:28 to go, then came up with a steal 12 seconds later. Veenstra added another basket and later hit 1 of 2 free throws with 51 seconds left to put the Lions back up seven — and they never looked back.

“We weren’t going to let (Moriah Prewitt) and (Miah Potratz) beat us, then Veenstra and (Megan Miller) stepped up and hit shots they needed to,” Morton said. “I told the girls that’s what happens down here. You have kids that don’t usually play that role for certain teams hit shots. That’s what they did tonight.”

Veenstra finished with 15 points, six rebounds and three assists. Miller hit three 3-pointers and totaled 10 points.

Kaili Lawson added 14 points and seven rebounds.

Des Moines Christian hit 9 of 16 3-pointers and got to the line 18 times. The Lions won their 23rd in a row to advance to the state semifinals with a 23-2 record.

Roland-Story made 8 of 25 3s, but only got to the line three times. The Norse held a slim 26-24 rebounding advantage.

Roland-Story finished the season at 19-6. Barkema had 14 points, seven rebounds and three blocks; Johnson five points, two assists and a steal, Kylie Tjernagel six points and Clark three points and three assists.

The Norse only lose two seniors in Susie Weaver and MaKayla Geise.

“Hopefully this will fuel their fire,” Morton said. “The girls always work hard in the off season, but I think there is another level we can get to. I feel we’re very solid defensively and we run our offense well. Probably the next big step for us is the shooting with more consistency from outside and being a little stronger with the ball. If we can do those things and start shooting a higher percentage from outside, we’ll be very, very dangerous the next couple years.”

Weaver was huge in her final game for Roland-Story. She made 5 of 7 shots, including 4 of 6 3-pointers, and finished with 14 points.

“It definitely helps that I’ve been in this situation before in different sports,” Weaver said. “You kind of already know what to do.”

Geise bowed out with three rebounds and two blocks.

Des Moines Christian 49, Roland-Story 41

RS 11 11 7 12 - 41

DMC 8 18 12 11 - 49

Roland-Story (41) - Juliann Clark 1-7 1-1 3, Madeline Morton 0-3 0-0 0, Reagan Barkema 6-13 0-0 14, MaKayla Geise 0-1 0-0 0, Kylie Tjernagle 2-6 0-0 6, Jordyn Ramus 0-0 0-0 0, Amy Rathmacher 0-0 0-0 0, Emily Berggren 0-0 0-0 0, Reece Johnson 1-4 2-2 5, Susie Weaver 5-7 0-0 14. Totals: 15-41 3-3 41. 3-point field goals (8): Weaver 4, Tjernagel 2, Barkema, Johnson. Rebounds (26): Clark 7, Barkema 7. Assists (10): Clark 3. Steals (2): Morton, Johnson. Blocks (5): Barkema 3. Fouls: 17.

Des Moines Christian (49) - Moriah Prewitt 0-6 1-3 1, Megan Miller 3-6 1-3 10, Emma Veenstra 4-5 5-8 15, Miah Potratz 2-3 0-0 6, Kaili Lawson 6-13 1-4 13, Ellie Schlapkohl 0-0 0-0 0, Kate Muller 1-2 0-0 3, Maren Judisch 0-1 0-0 0. Totals: 16-36 8-18 49. 3-point field goals (9): Miller 3, Veenstra 2, Potratz 2, Lawson, Muller. Rebounds (24): Lawson 7. Assists (12): Prewitt 4. Steals (6): Prewitt 2, Veenstra 2. Blocks (1): Lawson. Fouls: 4.