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Girls eliminated in third Colo-NESCO clash

February 27, 2015
Tyler Strand - Times-Republican , Traer Star-Clipper

Shayla Dean shouldered the load in scoring the Royals' last 16 points on Tuesday.

She did some more of the heavy lifting early to get her squad back into the game Friday, though this time her teammates were there to assist in the comeback.

Getting key contributions from a variety of sources, the Class 1A No. 6 Colo-NESCO girls basketball team overtook North Tama in the fourth quarter for a 42-39 triumph in a Class 1A District 4 semifinal.

Article Photos

North Tama’s Anna Kvidera drives into the lane to attempt a shot against Colo-NESCO defenders Melanie Van Loon, left, and Tabitha Halferty (34) during Friday’s Class 1A Region 4 semifinal game in Colo. The Royals won 42-39. (Photo by Tyler Strand / Times-Republican)

Dean scored a team-high 14 points, Melanie Van Loon added 12 and Makaelyn Neuendorf tallied 11 points and 10 boards as the Royals rallied back from a 10-point second-quarter deficit to earn their third victory over the Redhawks (20-4) this season.

"Melanie hit big shots with the three and two free throws, Tabby Halferty with a hook inside, Muck (Neuendorf) had a 3 in there - those were big plays when it was crunch time," Royals coach Wayne Cafferty said. "The other night was Shayla's night to carry us, tonight was a team effort."

Colo-NESCO (22-1) advances to play Kee High (21-3) in the district final Monday at 7 p.m. in Hudson for a third straight trip to the state tournament. The Kee Hawks upset ninth-ranked Janesville 51-49 in Oelwein.

The Royals found themselves on upset alert down 10 in the second quarter and five late in the third after Anna Kvidera scored in transition to put Colo-NESCO in a 31-26 hole with 59 seconds left in the frame.

Neuendorf hit two free throws and followed with a wide-open trey at the top of the key to knot the game heading into the fourth. The senior pumped her arms and bounced up and down as the momentum suddenly had shifted back to the Royals who rattled off the first six points to start the fourth.

Dean poked away a ball and raced to other end for a layup, putting the Royals on top 33-31 and Neuendorf swatted a shot in the paint to spring Dean for another transition basket. Halferty rose up with a left-handed hook shot in the paint to cap a 10-0 flurry and force a Redhawk timeout with 5:11 left.

Another Redhawk offensive board set up Abbie Schafer for a bucket inside and Kvidera converted both ends of a one-and-one to trim the deficit to 37-35. Dean drove the baseline and attracted a pair of defenders before kicking the ball out to Van Loon for an open 3, to push the margin back to five. The play perfectly portrayed the Royals comeback Friday with Dean getting things started and her teammates finishing it off.

"At halftime we knew we were all going to have to step up and make big plays," Van Loon said. "They always come out strong and we knew we'd need more than just Shayla to step up. Our nerves kind of relaxed after halftime and we just kind of slowed down and played our game."

Van Loon answered a Kvidera steal-and-layup with two free throws before the North Tama senior drove to the hoop once more to reel the Redhawks within 42-39 with 18 seconds remaining.

The Redhawks regained possession on a tie-up with 8.9 ticks left and got one last look but Kvidera's shot was off the mark as the Royals held on. Kvidera triggered the Redhawks attack with a game-high 16 points and Schafer added 10.

Schafer gave the Royals trouble on the glass early and her putback 3 minutes into the second frame punctuated a 9-0 flourish to give the Redhawks their largest lead at 19-9. The junior post picked up her third foul less than a minute later and was forced to the bench before Dean ignited a solo 10-2 run including a trio of 3-pointers to pull the home team within 21-19 at the break.

The two-point cushion was all that remained from a once comfortable lead that Redhawk coach Phil Moss believed should have been much greater.

"We missed a whole lot of real close shots," Moss said. "The first half, as opposed to a 10-point lead, it should have been something like 18. I think we missed four or five bunnies, real close shots right in a row on multiple possessions. It should have given us a little bit more of a cushion from that first half to the second half."



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