Bishop Garrigan Punches Fifth Straight State Ticket

by Tyler Lance
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The Bishop Garrigan girls basketball team is heading back to the class 1A state tournament for the fifth straight season and ninth time in program history after defeating Riceville 62-44 at Mason City High School on Wednesday night in the region six final. 

The Golden Bears lead wire to wire, scoring the first five points of the game, leading 16-6 after one, and never looking back.  Leading 8-6 early in the game, Bishop Garrigan scored the next 15 points, taking a 23-6 lead with 5:42 left in the 2nd quarter, as Riceville went 6 minutes and 15 seconds without a point before a Jaylyn Beran layup broke up the Riceville scoring drought. 

Getting the basketball into the paint proved to be the formula for the 15-0 run. The run began with Graclyn Eastman passing out of a double team in the paint and finding the cutting Abbie Capesius for two. Before the end of the first, the Golden Bears got an Eastman finish thru contact for two more, an Emmi Bartolo drive and score, and a touch on the block for Capesius for another bucket.

The Golden Bears would lead 35-16 at the half, and 50-27 at the end of 3.  The Wildcats eventually made a push, going on a 12-1 scoring run between the end of the 3rd and the halfway point of the 4th, making the score 51-39. After a cold shooting performance for most of the first three quarters, perimeter shooting drove the Riceville run. Samantha Wilberding banked in a perimeter jumper with her foot touching the three point line, and Shayla Greeley came off the bench to swish back to back threes. A Wilberding hook shot from the center of the paint was followed by a Greeley layup in transition to get Riceville as close as they’d been since early in the second quarter, down by 12 with just over four minutes remaining in the game.

Bartolo snatched the momentum back for Bishop Garrigan on the very next possession, drilling a deep three pointer with 3:50 left. After Bishop Garrigan had extended the lead to 57-41 a few possessions later, Bartolo provided the highlight of the night, collecting a loose basketball near half court, and throwing up a desperation three off of one leg at the end of the shot clock, hitting it, and providing the icing on the cake with just under a minute left in the game.

Bishop Garrigan Head Coach Brandon Schwab says it was a shot that proved it was the Golden Bears’ night.

62-44 would ultimately be the final score.  The Golden Bears defeat Riceville for the third straight year in the regional final after winning 74-33 in 2022 and 76-41 in 2023 over the Wildcats, and qualify for their ninth state tournament in program history.  The Golden Bears are now 23-2, while Riceville ends the season at 22-2. 

Schwab says although Bishop Garrigan didn’t always play perfect basketball, the work they put in is unquestioned.

Bartolo finished career high of 21 points, making 6/11 three point attempts, while Eastman added 15 points and 9 rebounds. Capesius recorded her second straight double double, posting 10 points, 14 rebounds, 4 assists, and 5 steals, one game after having 10 rebounds and 11 assists against Saint Ansgar. Zoe Montag and Sacha Alesch scored 7 points apiece, while Alyssa Haugland rounded out the Golden Bear scoring with 2.

Bishop Garrigan shot 43.8% from the field, made 7/20 3s, and converted 13 of 17 free throws, as Alesch went 7/8 from the charity stripe to lead the way in that category.

According to Schwab, the Golden Bears showed that they play their best when the pressure is on.

Tillotti Fair led Riceville with 12 points, while Lily Fair followed her with 10, and Greeley finished with 8 off the bench. The Wildcats, who finish the season at 22-2, bring all five starters back next season, as the starting lineup in this game was comprised entirely of juniors.

The Golden Bears are the #5 seed at the class 1A state tournament, and will play in the quarterfinal round against St. Albert at 3:15 on Wednesday afternoon.  You can hear all of the Bishop Garrigan state tournament coverage live on KLGA and KLGZ.  The other state quarterfinal matchups taking place on Wednesday will be #1 North Linn against #8 Montezuma at 1:30, #2 Newell-Fonda vs. #7 Calamus-Wheatland at 5, and #3 Remsen St. Mary’s against #6 Martensdale-St. Mary’s at 6:45. 

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