Algona’s Season Ends in Regional Final Heartbreaker

by Tyler Lance
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The girls basketball season comes to an end in the regional final for the second consecutive year for the Algona Bulldogs, after a late rally by the #11 ranked Bulldogs fell short in a 45-41 loss at #2 Des Moines Christian in the class 3A – region 2 final on Saturday night.

Algona found themselves trailing 41-33 with just under a minute left, but mounted a furious rally. Lauren McLaughlin swished a three pointer with 55 seconds left, making the score 41-36. Algona then fouled Addy Oetker, who missed both free throws, but rebounded her own miss, and got the ball out to Paige Hilgerson, who converted one out of two to make the score 42-36.

On the ensuing Algona possession, Hayden Kuhlmann missed a three point attempt, but Hayden McGlaughlin grabbed the rebound, one of just five offensive rebounds Algona had on the night, and was fouled. Algona eventually converted the possession into a layup by Kuhlmann, bringing the score to 42-38 with 25 seconds remaining.

After a timeout, Algona would catch a huge break on the ensuing inbounds pass, as Des Moines Christian threw the ball out of bounds for a turnover, as Hayden McGlaughlin and Gianna Bennett got their legs tangled going after the ball and fell down. The Bulldogs got a three from Kuhlmann right after the turnover, and trailed 42-41 with 15 seconds left.

After Oetker made both free throws, Algona had one more chance with 13 seconds remaining, but the Lions stole the basketball, made a free throw to go up by four, and secured their second consecutive trip to state and sixth in program history.

The game was a defense oriented battle throughout the night, as Algona trailed 24-19 at the half and 35-28 at the end of three. The Bulldogs never led after a Paige Schmitt bucket put them up 9-8 in the first quarter, but were never out of the game either, as Des Moines Christian extended their lead to eight points on several occasions, but never more than that.

Lauren McGlaughlin finished with 13 points and 7 rebounds for Algona, Hayden McGlaughlin had 4 points and 15 boards, and Hayden Kuhlmann ended with 12 points. Addy Oetker led the Lions with 16 points, 7 boards, and 5 steals, while Abby Hall added 10 points, and Gianna Bennett scored 8.

A key factor in the game was turnovers, as Des Moines Christian finished with a 15-4 edge in that category. That turnover edge led to an advantage in both field goals and free throws attempted for the Lions, as they took 47 shot attempts to Algona’s 39, and 19 free throw attempts to Algona’s 7. The Bulldogs shot 41% from the field, 5/20 on 3s, and 4/7 from the foul line. Des Moines Christian finished at 31.9% on field goals, 6/19 on 3s, and 9/19 at the foul line.

Algona ends the season at 19-5, their most wins since going 20-2 in the 2018-19 season, which also marked the last season the Bulldogs won the North Central Conference before this year’s conference title. Algona is set to return a roster that did not feature a single senior. Des Moines Christian now has a record of 23-1, and earned the number two seed in class 3A for state.

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