Toto Belief

—Photo by Paul DeCoursey Iowa Central’s Rachel Toto hugs teammate Jescenia Mosley and Brittany West cheers after Iowa Central defeated Iowa Lakes on Wednesday.

Rachel Toto didn’t want Wednesday night to be the final time she slipped on her Iowa Central uniform.

Toto, a sophomore, knocked down four key 3-pointers in the fourth quarter, including one to tie the game, as the Tritons advanced with a 79-74 overtime victory vs. Iowa Lakes here inside Hodges Fieldhouse.

Iowa Central (17-14 overall) will now meet No. 12 North Iowa Area on Saturday in a Region XI semifinal in Cedar Rapids. The Trojans (25-6) knocked off Ellsworth, 105-40.

Toto finished with a team-high 18 points, including 13 in the fourth quarter as the Tritons overcame a 16-point deficit.

“I just was like, ‘Lord, be with me right now,'” Toto said. “Every time I shot, the ball felt good. I knew my teammates were counting on me, so I just kept shooting those shots and keeping a lot of faith.”

The energy created from the rally helped ignite Iowa Central in overtime, as they eliminated the Lakers (13-18). The Tritons outscored Iowa Lakes in the fourth and overtime, 36-25.

“Rachel is a shooter,” ICCC head coach Kelly Kruger said. “She works as hard as anybody getting shots up and I am just really happy for her reaping the benefits of always being in the gym.

“This is March madness and she didn’t want to be done. That’s what you want to do; fight to the end and go down hard.”

Brittany West had a double-double for Iowa Central with 12 points and 10 rebounds, with Mardajea Cross adding 15 points, nine boards and five assists.

Kryssie Okinaka, who was part of the national-qualifying volleyball team in the fall, scored eight points with four assists. Okinaka and Cross combined for 11 of the 12 points scored by the Tritons in the extra period.

“Kryssie had a crazy overtime,” Kruger said. “She just flipped the switch and made some big plays.

“We were lagging for most of the game, but we had faith and believe.”

Marissa Ruiz scored a game-high 20 points for the Lakers, with Lemia Ntor-Ue adding 13 and Mia Wassink 12. Marisela Perez, who scored 11 points with six assists, had a shot at the end of regulation go in that would have won it for Iowa Lakes, but was overturned by the officials after a confrontation.

Toto, who is one of three sophomores on the Iowa Central roster along with Sarah Rolling and Emma O’Donoghue, tried her best to keep her team focused before overtime.

“My mind was just everywhere, but I knew we had to stay focused and calm,” Toto said. “We had to stay mature.”

Iowa Central went 12-5 at home this year and will carry a four-game win streak into Saturday’s third meeting with NIACC. The Trojans swept those two games, 76-67 and 93-73.

In the other semifinal, Kirkwood (29-3) will take on Southeastern (22-9) in Cedar Rapids. The winners meet on Sunday for a spot in the national tournament.


Iowa Central — Kira Ward 4-6 0-0 8, Brittany West 3-10 4-4 12, Rachel Toto 6-9 1-2 18, Avery Terwilliger 0-6 1-2 1, Sarah Rolling 1-4 0-0 2, Jaylin Carter 1-3 3-6 5, Mardaeja Cross 7-11 1-2 15, Kryssie Okinaka 2-2 4-4 8, Emma O’Donoghue 4-5 2-2 10. Totals: 28-56 16-22 79.

Iowa Lakes — Marissa Ruiz 6-9 3-4 20, Marisela Perez 2-9 6-7 11, Mia Wassink 6-12 0-0 12, Calynn Jackson 3-7 0-0 8, Lemia Ntor-Ue 5-14 3-10 13, Anjanea Simms 2-4 0-0 4, Kaitlyn Reynolds 0-1 0-0 0, Shai’anye Wesley 3-9 0-0 6. Totals: 27-65 12-21 74.

Quarter scores: Iowa Lakes 15-11, 38-26, 49-43, Tied 67-67. Three-point goals: Iowa Central 7-14 (West 2-3, Toto 5-7, Terwilliger 0-3, Rolling 0-1); Iowa Lakes 8-20 (Ruiz 5-7, Perez 1-7, Jackson 2-5, Ntor-Ue 0-1). Total rebounds: Iowa Central 40, Iowa Lakes 32. Steals: 8, Iowa Lakes 8. Blocked shots: Iowa Central 2, Iowa Lakes 3. Assists: Iowa Central 18, Iowa Lakes 13. Turnovers: Iowa Central 18, Iowa Lakes 17. Team fouls: Iowa Central 22, Iowa Lakes 18. Fouled out: Rolling, Ward.