Going For Gold: Bishop Garrigan Wins First Girls Basketball Title

by Tyler Lance
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For the Bishop Garrigan Golden Bears, the best things in life are worth the wait, as the team capped off their 2021-2022 campaign, winning by the tip of a finger over the MMCRU Royals in the IGHSAU Class 1A state title game at Wells Fargo Arena in Des Moines.

The outcome came down to the last shot, as MMCRU possessed the basketball with 2.3 seconds left and trailing 52-49 following a jump ball. After an inbounds play from the baseline, MMCRU senior Taylor Harpenau took a three to tie the game, but Bishop Garrigan sophomore Abbie Capesius tipped the shot attempt, knocking it off course and delivering the first ever state championship for the Golden Bears.

Bishop Garrigan head coach Brandon Schwab says the final play did not go like he planned in the last timeout.

Capesius was worried at first that she would be called for a foul, but knew it was a clean play.

Throughout much of the game, it seemed unlikely that the outcome would come down to a final shot. Bishop Garrigan stifled MMCRU for much of the game, extending their lead to 13 points a couple times, and sitting in the driver’s seat up 46-34 after an Audi Crooks free throw with 5:20 left. However, keyed by several minutes of lockdown defense and shooters heating up, the Royals went on a 12-0 run and tied the game on a jumper by Kora Alesch with 2:47 left in regulation.

Crooks says lapses on defense combined with good shots by the Royals led to the run.

The 12-0 spurt began with a put back from Alesch with 4:21 left on the clock. Threes by Harpenau and senior Mya Holmes ignited the MMCRU half of the stadium and brought the Royals back. The late three from Holmes was part of a night that saw the Royal senior hit three of seven three point tries on her way to an 11 point night, after coming into the night 2/20 on threes for the season.

Crooks was able to put Bishop Garrigan back in front 48-46 with a spin move leading to a left-handed layup with two minutes left in the game, the first field goal for the Golden Bears since another Crooks layup at the 1:11 mark in the third quarter. Crooks would finish the game with 15 points and 13 rebounds.

Junior Molly Joyce proved to be the key over the final moments of the game, as with Bishop Garrigan in the bonus, the Golden Bears got Joyce the basketball and MMCRU fouled her to force free throws. Joyce hit both shots of a one and one with 35 seconds left to give the Golden Bears a 50-46 lead. MMCRU answered with a three from senior Ellie Hilbrands to trim the Royal deficit back to one, but Joyce would hit two more critical foul shots on the ensuing possession, giving her a game high 18 points.

Early in the game, it wasn’t all Joyce and Crooks for Bishop Garrigan. While both teams were still finding their footing in the game, Golden Bear senior Meredith Tigges buried two first quarter threes, helping Bishop Garrigan gain the early edge.

Coach Schwab feels that a theme of the tournament has been role players stepping up.

The Golden Bears stumped MMCRU on offense for much of the first half, holding them to 1/9 on three pointers over the first two quarters while building a 32-20 lead at the break.

Both teams made adjustments at halftime, and Coach Schwab continued to tweak the defense throughout the second half.

With the loss, MMCRU comes up just short of the program’s first state title, but head coach Gillian Letsche feels the seniors were a goal oriented group who set high standards for the team going forward.

MMCRU senior Emily Dreckman feels they showed the younger players what is possible.

Crooks says Bishop Garrigan had to overcome their own mental hurdles in order to capture the championship.

Molly Joyce was named as 1A all-tournament team captain for her performance throughout the week at state. Joyce was joined by teammate Audi Crooks, MMCRU’s Taylor Harpenau and Emily Dreckman, Newell-Fonda’s Macy Sievers, and North Linn’s Kamryn Kurt on the all-tournament team.

This year’s Bishop Garrigan team had a tight bond according to senior Emma Grandgenett.

With the win, Bishop Garrigan finishes 25-3, tying the program record for wins in a single season. MMCRU wraps up the year 26-2.

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