Unbeaten Newell-Fonda girls return to 1A finals

Messenger photo by Britt Kudla Newell-Fonda celebrates its Class 1A semifinal victory at Wells Fargo Arena on Friday. For more photos, please visit CU.messengernews.net

DES MOINES — Like old boxing heavyweight title fights of years past, unbeaten Newell-Fonda and unbeaten Central Decatur entered Wells Fargo Arena here Friday with a spot in the Class 1A state finals at stake.

Behind Olivia Larsen, the fourth-ranked Mustangs landed the first big blow and continued to pound away at the body of the No. 2 Cardinals, scoring a 61-49 victory and advancing to a meeting Saturday night with top-ranked and defending two-time state champion Springville at 7 p.m.

Newell-Fonda (26-0 overall) and the Orioles (24-3) met in the 2015 finals with the Mustangs coming out on top. That was the last time Springville lost at the state tournament, who knocked N-F out in 2016 in the semis.

“We’ll prepare the same way we do for every game,” Larsen said when asked about playing Springville, “and take care of business.”

Larsen finished with 23 points, six rebounds and four steals in 31 minutes of action. Emma Stewart added 12 points and Megan Morenz 11.

“The word relentless comes to mind. She doesn’t stop,” Central Decatur head coach Curtis Boothe said of Larsen. “Sometimes there was nothing going on and she just dribbles around until she finds something to exploit.”

Central Decatur (26-1) was led by Emma Atwood’s 18 points. Alli Masters added 15 and 10 rebounds to go along with seven steals.

“Right now, I’m just soaking in a win against a very good team,” said N-F head coach Dick Jungers, who is now 339-67 in his 16 seasons. “It hasn’t really sunk in yet that we are in the championship game. We’ll let this one settle and give it our best effort (Saturday night).”

After the Cardinals cut the deficit to three, Larsen took over. The junior grabbed a rebound and darted the length of the court for a bucket, following that up with an assist to Morenz. A Camryn Wilken three-pointer gave Newell-Fonda a 47-38 cushion late in the third.

“It was so important that we kept taking it at them because we wanted to dictate the game and not let up at all,” Larsen said. “We answered by continuing to do what we do, which was working the ball and attacking when it was open.”

Newell-Fonda has now reached seven state finals all-time, including that championship in 2015.

“It’s gonna feel amazing taking part in a championship game,” Larsen said. “Knowing we are one of only two teams left in the entire state in 1A to still be playing is special.

“It all comes down to this now and we just need to go take it.”

Springville advanced to the finals with a 57-41 victory over No. 7 Exira-EHK, as Mikayla Nachazel scored 15 points and Madi Wagaman added 13.

NEWELL-FONDA 61, CENTRAL DECATUR 49

Newell-Fonda — Emma Stewart 2-4 6-6 12, Jenna Coppock 0-0 0-0 0, Megan Morenz 5-6 1-3 11, Olivia Larsen 6-12 10-16 23, Ella Larsen 3-6 0-2 7, Camryn Wilken 2-4 0-0 6, Bailey Sievers 0-2 0-0 0, Ellie Lago 0-1 0-0 0, Beth Greenfield 0-1 0-0 0, Maggie Walker 0-4 2-2 2, Ashley Archer 0-0 0-0 0. Totals: 18-40 19-29 61.

Central Decatur — Alli Masters 6-22 2-3 15, Abbie Ridgway 0-1 1-2 1, Alliey Boswell 2-3 0-2 6, Emma Atwood 6-11 6-11 18, Erica Kauzlarich 1-3 1-2 3, Riley Bell 0-0 0-2 0, Alaina Applegate 0-2 0-0 0, Maizee Lindsey 3-5 0-0 6. Totals: 18-47 10-22 49.

Quarter scores: Newell-Fonda led 10-9, 35-22, 49-40. Three-point goals: Newell-Fonda 6-14 (Stewart 2-4, O. Larsen 1-3, E. Larsen 1-2, Wilken 2-3, Greenfield 0-1, Walker 0-1); Central Decatur 3-12 (Masters 1-6, Ridgway 0-1, Boswell 2-3, Atwood 0-1, Kauzlarich 0-1). Total rebounds: Newell-Fonda 25, Central Decatur 33. Steals: Newell-Fonda 13, Central Decatur 11. Blocked shots: Newell-Fonda 1, Central Decatur 1. Assists: Newell-Fonda 7, Central Decatur 7. Team fouls: Newell-Fonda 18, Central Decatur 21. Fouled out: Boswell. Turnovers: Newell-Fonda 20, Central Decatur 20.

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