The Bishop Garrigan girls basketball senior class continues to make a home at Wells Fargo Arena, as the Golden Bears punched their fourth straight state ticket and fifth in the past six years with a 76-41 win over the Riceville Wildcats on Thursday night at Mason City High School.
Bishop Garrigan never trailed and didn’t let Riceville settle in during the opening quarter, scoring the first seven points of the game on their way to a 21-8 lead at the end of one. The three point shooting was on target to start the game for Bishop Garrigan, as senior Molly Joyce hit two first quarter triples and freshman Emmi Bartolo added another, something that would be a theme throughout the night.
Another theme to the game was the dominant play of Golden Bear senior Audi Crooks, who scored 30 points and grabbed 12 rebounds, marking her 13th game of 30 or more points on the season.
Riceville struggled to establish any semblance of momentum until the very end of the first half, when senior Madison Mauer hit back to back corner threes, and the Wildcats stopped the Golden Bears on their final five possessions of the half. Riceville continued to push coming out of the halftime break down 36-20, as a Tillotti Fair putback off a missed Mauer three and a Joy Beran three pointer trimmed Bishop Garrigan’s lead down to 11.
Bishop Garrigan would get back in control, as Joyce scored five points in a row later in the third for the Golden Bears to extend the lead to 45-29. A Crooks layup put the Golden Bears up 47-29, before Mauer hit her third three pointer of the game for Riceville to bring the score to 47-32. The good feelings did not last long for the Wildcats, as Golden Bear freshman Sacha Alesch swished a corner three to make it 50-32 with 3:49 left in the third.
Following the Alesch three and a 60 second timeout by Bishop Garrigan Head Coach Brandon Schwab, the Golden Bears would put the game away, closing on a 26-9 scoring run in just under 12 minutes of gameplay, including buckets on their first four possessions of the fourth quarter.
Bishop Garrigan junior Abbie Capesius scored 15 points on 7/11 from the field, capitalizing on the attention drawn by Crooks opening up space to cut to the bucket. Capesius also grabbed eight rebounds, including five on the offensive glass, scoring on a couple putbacks. Joyce finished with 14 points and a team-leading seven assists. Golden Bears finished the evening with 24 assists and only five turnovers. Several of those assists led to three balls, as Bishop Garrigan made 7/16 threes, just a few nights after a 1/12 performance from downtown against Saint Ansgar.
Joy Beran led the Wildcats with 14 points while Mauer chipped in 9. Riceville ends the season with a record of 23-2, tying the program record for most wins from the 1982-83 season and eclipsing last season’s 22-3 mark that also ended in the regional final at the hands of Bishop Garrigan.
The Golden Bears head to state with the number one seed in the class 1A bracket, as they will face eighth-seeded Martensdale-St. Mary’s in Wednesday’s quarterfinal round. The game will tip off at 1:30, and you can catch all of the action on KLGA 92.7 FM