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Garrigan duo makes history

—Messenger photo by Britt Kudla The Bishop Garrigan basketball team looks on during the Class 1A quarterfinals. Audi Crooks (sixth from the left) and Molly Joyce (eighth from the left) were the first freshman teammates in Iowa basketball history to be selected to the IPSWA all-state first team.

ALGONA — When Molly Joyce and Audi Crooks met on the basketball court in the summer of their seventh grade years, they had no idea what the future held for them.

Joyce, a point guard, and Crooks, a 6-foot-3 post, clicked on and off the court immediately, building, a friendship that has carried over into high school.

“I started playing with Audi in the summer of our seventh grade year,” Joyce said. “We’re best friends and I love her — we are best buddies.”

Fast-forward three years into high school at Bishop Garrigan. The freshman re-wrote the school’s record books and breaking records in the state of Iowa.

On Monday, the pair was announced as IPSWA all-state first team selections. It’s believed to be the first time in the history of Iowa girls basketball that a freshman duo from the same school has been tabbed first teamers in the same season.

“That means the world to be honored like that,” said Crooks, who was named Class 1A all-tournament captain on Saturday. “It shows how far we’ve come, and that we both work hard.

“It’s nice to be able to make history.”

Garrigan head coach Brandon Schwab was impressed how his freshman tandem came together.

“Obviously as a team who doesn’t care about individual accolades, you can see the time and work that they’ve put in has paid off. This is a big honor for them and their families,” Schwab said. “They’re best friends on and off the court. They’re each other’s biggest advocates, and they stick up for each other.

“Audi is great because of Molly, and Molly is great because of Audi.”

On the court, the pair has been smashing records. Off the court, they’ve been working together to accomplish their goals.

“Molly is a genuine person to be around. She has good energy,” Crooks said. “Her family is very nice and we just bond and perform well together.”

In their first season together at the high school level, the two scored a combined 1,101 points. Crooks tallied an Iowa freshman record 626 points, and Joyce added 475. Crooks also broke the freshman record for field goals made with 270, and had a 70.7 field goal percentage.

Crooks also had the third-best rebounding total (320) for a freshman.

Joyce had 71 assists and 109 steals to go along with 65 made three-pointers.

“It’s really cool and I’m super thankful to be selected (first team all-state),” Joyce said. “I want to say thank you to the seniors and juniors embracing us and being there for us.”

Schwab has seen their effort and attitude become infectious on the court and in the locker room.

“They are leaders, which says a lot for freshmen,” Schwab said. “They are leaders in practice and bring it to a game and in the locker room. Audi is singing and Molly is dancing. They’re very relaxed, and that’s why we see a lot of success as a team.”

Crooks, the daughter of 1985 Fort Dodge Senior High graduate Jimmie Crooks and former Golden Bear standout Michelle (Vitzthum) Cook, also had the chance to break some of her mom’s records at Bishop Garrigan.

Cook was the school leader in field goal percentage at 59 percent, until Audi broke it at 70.7. Cook is in the Top-10 on the program’s all-time scoring list with Jenna Boelter (1520), a 2018 graduate, at the top.

After time reflecting on a disappointing state championship loss to top-ranked Newell-Fonda, the tandem is clearly ready for the next step.

“Losses are sometimes better than wins,” Crooks said. “I will remember that feeling, and it will motivate me to work harder and change the results so next year we come out on top.”

Junior Kaylyn Meyers was a third-team All-State election.

“Kaylyn, who went through rehab on her knee, came back and had a strong season,” Schwab said. “She had a great year and a great state tournament.”

Even though the ultimate goal didn’t come to fruition, the freshmen duo isn’t shying away from lofty goals for 2021.

“That loss hurt at the buzzer, but without a doubt, it lit a fire,” Schwab said. “Those kids are in the gym already. They are ultra-motivated. Once we close the book on this season at our banquet, you will see the commitment to get back to the same spot and have the same opportunity to be back in the finals.

“It hurts now, but if you look back, it was a phenomenal season. After the sting (of defeat) wears off, everyone will realize there are a lot of things to be proud of.”

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