The Waukee girls’ basketball found themselves competing in the state tournament at the end of the season at Wells Fargo Arena in Des Moines last week. The Warriors didn’t have a long stay at the tournament, however, as they were defeated in the first round by West Des Moines, Dowling Catholic 62-56 on March 5.
The Maroons would go on to defeat No. 1 Iowa City High in the semifinals and Southeast Polk in the finals and were crowned state champions in Class 5A.
The Warriors hit a few 3-pointers in the last minute of the game and came within striking distance of the Maroons but still came up short by the time the horn sounded and saw their season come to an end.
The Warriors were plagued by a poor shooting performance in the first half going only 8-of-29 from the field and making just 1-of-12 3-point attempts. The Maroons shot 67.7 percent throughout the whole game compared to Waukee’s 32.8 percent.
Waukee coach Chris Guess said that there wasn’t a specific reason for the shooting troubles in the first half.
“You could point to a hundred different things,” Guess said. “It could be ‘they’re excited.’ They’ve played in big games before… Shots just didn’t go in.”
Waukee’s Taylor Wingert and Reilly Jacobson each had 17 points in the game. Wingert did it on a 6-of-13 shooting performance with four 3-pointers on 10 attempts while Jacobson went 5-of-9 from the field and made her only 3-point attempt. Jacobson added 11 rebounds, eight of which were on the offensive end, and five steals in the game.
Carlie Littlefield went 5-of-17 from the field and scored 13 points while also tallying four assists and three steals. Dowling Catholic’s Becca Hittner went 6-of-8 from the field, made her only 3-point attempt and went 11-of-12 from the free throw line en route to a game-high 24 points.
In the first meeting between Waukee and Dowling Catholic, it was the Maroons ahead at halftime by a score of 30-18. The Warriors stormed back in the second half to win the game, however, by a narrow score of 49-48.
“We knew we could stick with them and we knew we could beat them, so it kind of helped our confidence in preparing for them,” Waukee’s Carlie Littlefield said. “We knew what they wanted to do.”
At the start of the season, the Warriors didn’t make it into the top ten. They didn’t crack the Class 5A rankings until Dec. 12 in the third rankings where they were ranked No. 9 with a 3-0 record.
By the time the final rankings of the season came out on Feb. 13, Waukee had climbed to No. 4 in the state in Class 5A with a record of 18-3. For Wingert, a senior this season, making the state tournament was “amazing” since they started the season unranked.
“We came out this year, we put ourselves on the map,” Wingert said. “We worked hard, we worked together and out of all four of my years this is the closest team we’ve had. We’re all best friends, we hang out every night… Having that team chemistry is what got us here. We’re fighters. All of us are fighters and we fought until the final buzzer tonight.”