Cougars earn state berth

BOONE – As the pressure mounted, the Manson Northwest Webster girls never folded.

Despite going ice-cold from the free throw line in the fourth quarter, the seventh-ranked Cougars claimed a Class 2A regional title here Monday night over No. 12 Des Moines Christian, 47-43.

Cloie Herzberg scored a game-high 18 points to help Manson NW (20-4 overall) earn its ninth state appearance and sixth since the 2007 season. They will face No. 2 Iowa City Regina (24-0) next Tuesday at 10 a.m. inside Wells Fargo Arena in Des Moines.

Brenna Peters, one of five seniors that have helped the program win 79 games over the past four seasons, added 11 points, 13 rebounds and three steals.

“These girls just have such an incredible ability to never get too high or too low,” MNW head coach Bret Larson said. “As a coach, that drives you crazy at times, but during games like this one, it’s why you come out on top.

“We weren’t able to get the job done at the line (in the fourth), but we never got down and remained focused on what we have preached all year; which is to focus on the next shot.”

The Lions (21-3), who had advanced to state each of the past two seasons, jumped out early thanks to junior Mia Rosener. The post player scored 10 points in the first quarter, including eight during a 10-4 run.

“We had scouted her and talked to several coaches, and we did not expect her to play with her back to the basket like she did,” Larson said. “But credit our girls because we went back to the drawing board and found a way to defend her (after the opening quarter).”

While the Manson NW defense limited Rosener to just four points the rest of the way, Herzberg and company were getting going. They forced 13 turnovers and converted them into 13 points, taking a lead into the half.

Herzberg sank a three-pointer for the final points of the opening 16 minutes. She finished with 11 in the half, while Peters added nine.

“We’ve been pushed and tested all year playing our schedule and in the Twin Lakes Conference (which MNW finished as co-runner up to No. 1 Pocahontas Area),” Larson said. “I really feel like that helped prepare us for a game like this.”

The Cougars saw their lead evaporate as DM Christian went on a 9-2 run late in the third. Peters stopped the bleeding with a triple right before the end of the quarter.

But a quick six-point spurt in the fourth erased the deficit and put MNW in a position to control the game. They worked the ball around the perimeter, taking several minutes off the clock.

However, the Cougars were unable to officially seal it once the Lions started fouling. Manson NW went just 4-for-14 at the foul line over the final eight minutes. Herzberg, though, had a much-needed make with under 20 seconds left to reach the final score.

“They still wanted the ball and wanted to be fouled,” said Larson, whose team has won four straight and 14 of its last 15. “These girls have all the confidence in the world in their abilities.”

Three TLC teams will compete in Des Moines next week, as the Indians are the favorites in 3A, while Newell-Fonda returns in 1A to defend its crown.

Manson Northwest Webster has now gone 58-15 over the past three years, with all four losses this season coming to state qualifiers in Pocahontas Area, Cherokee (3A) and the Mustangs.

Faith Troshynski, who has led MNW in scoring each of the past three seasons, added eight more points to her career total, which now stands at 1,399. Peters has 884 career points.