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Tritons headed to nationals

—Messenger photo by Paul DeCoursey The Iowa Central basketball team sprays coach Brian Ortmeier with silly string after the Tritons qualified for the national basketball tournament on Saturday.

BOONE — For the first time since 2013, the Iowa Central women are headed to nationals.

The Tritons scored a convincing 85-66 victory over No. 17 Des Moines Area here Saturday, punching their spot in the NJCAA Div. II National Tournament. This will be the seventh appearance all-time and first for Iowa Central (13-8 overall) head coach Brian Ortmeier in his career.

Isabell West scored a game-high 28 points with Nevaeh Galloway adding 23. Jordan Engbrecht posted 14, Carley West 13 and Autumn Dykstra seven.

Back in March, the Tritons made the very same trip and posted a 69-63 victory over the Bears (15-7) for their seventh consecutive win at the time. After a loss to Kirkwood in the season finale, they dominated Southeastern to open regional play.

“This was probably the most confident they have been,” Ortmeier said. “A great sign is how well you shoot the basketball and we shot it really well from both inside and outside. I couldn’t ask for much more in terms of how we executed.”

Engbrecht had 13 of her 14 points in the second half when the Tritons outscored DMACC 50-37,

“Jordan has just been playing with a lot of confidence,” Ortmeier said. “We’ve seen a lot of maturity out of our sophomores. They have really stepped up.”

Iowa Central led by six at the break, increasing that advantage to 65-42 heading into the fourth.

“We got stops, executed well and did a great job on the defensive glass,” Ortmeier said. “Everything was falling for us.”

Making the all-Region XI B Tournament team were Isabell West, Galloway and Dykstra, with West earning MVP honors.

“This is such a great feeling,” West said. “I am so proud of this team. We have been through a lot this year and this is really rewarding.”

Galloway, a transfer who missed all of last season with an injury, added “It feels amazing. Through everything that has happened like COVID, we have been working our tails off to get to his position. Being able to bring Coach Ortmeier to nationals is amazing.

“We all deserved this.”

Kirkwood claimed the Region XI-A title with a win over Southwestern and will join Iowa Central April 20-24 in Hickory, North Carolina for nationals.

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