Hawks set to take on defending champs in semifinals

Friday, March 3, 2023
(Sentinel Photo By Allen Hamil) Lotta Bamberger reacts after putting the Remsen St. Mary’s sticker onto the semifinal slot alongside Bishop Garrigan following the team’s quarterfinal win on Wednesday. The Hawks and Golden Bears meet at 1:30 p.m., Friday with a title game berth on the line.

No. 4-seed Remsen St. Mary’s (24-1) vs. No. 1-seed Bishop Garrigan (24-1) Friday, 1:30 p.m. at Wells Fargo Arena

After a win in their first ever game at state, the Remsen St. Mary’s girls basketball team will face an even bigger challenge in the semifinal round on Friday. The Hawks are set to go up against the defending champions from Algona Bishop Garrigan.

RSM Head Coach Scott Willman knows it won’t be easy, but pointed to last year’s championship game as a reason he thinks his team has a chance.

“I know the team from MMCRU played them tough last year. We have a team that believes,” Willman said.

MMCRU, the nearby War Eagle Conference rival of the Hawks, lost by just three points to Garrigan in last year’s 1A title game, rallying from down double digits entering the fourth quarter to make it just a one possession game at the end with even a chance for a tie with the final shot of the game.

The Royals even had a fairly effective strategy to slow down Audi Crooks, holding her nearly nine points below her 23.5 point per game average last season.

Crooks, a 6-foot-3 senior who has committed to Iowa State, is scoring at an even higher rate this season. She entered the state tournament averaging over 32 points per game and then put up 42 points in her team’s 67-44 win over Martensdale-St. Marys in the state quarterfinal round, going 20-of-25 from the field and adding 14 rebounds and three blocked shots to her scoring total. The 42 points was a Class 1A single game state record, surpassing the 38 points Marissa Schroeder of Marquette Catholic had in 2017 in a quarterfinal round loss to Kingsley-Pierson.

“We will front Audi and we will have somebody behind her and we will make the passes to her as hard as we can make them. We’ll be out pressuring,” Willman said will be part of the game plan.

Crooks won’t be the only player the Hawks will have to worry about defending. Senior guard Molly Joyce adds 16.5 points per game for the Golden Bears and leads them in assists and steals.

Knowing their defensive responsibilities will be key according to Mya Bunkers.

“We need to have a back person on Audi Crooks, on Molly Joyce. We just need to know where the people we have are at,” Bunkers said.

Abbie Capesius is another scoring threat for the Golden Bears with a 9.1 point per game average entering the state tournament.

Bishop Garrigan’s lone loss this season came against a Hopkins team from Minnesota at the Twin Cities Thanksgiving Invite at the start of the season by a 72-46 score. The Golden Bears have rattled off 24 consecutive wins since then, winning by an average margin of 77.6-37.4.

The winner of Friday’s semifinal game will meet either Newell-Fonda or North Linn in Saturday’s championship game.

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