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Eighth-seeded Vinton-Shellsburg pulls off win over top-seeded Estherville Lincoln Central

Benton Community rides emotional wave to semifinals

By Ryan Timmerman | Photos by Matthew Putney 

DES MOINES -- It was far from the start the Vinton-Shellsburg Vikettes imagined for their quarterfinal game against top-seeded Estherville Lincoln Central, but it was definitely the ending the Vikettes wished for. 

It didn’t look good for Vinton-Shellsburg to start after falling to ELC 14-2 after one quarter of play. 

But the Class 3A eighth-seeded Vikettes prevailed over the top-seeded Midgets, 54-46. 

“The thought of losing just doesn’t occur to (our team),” said Vinton-Shellsburg head coach Rich Haisman. “They just don’t give up, they’re very motivated and have been dreaming about this for a long, long time. 

“It’s just a great group of kids, a great group of parents, coaches, on down the line. It took the whole school to come up with this one.”

Vinton-Shellsburg (18-7) flipped the script on Estherville Lincoln Central in the second quarter and took that frame, 14-6 to trail by just four going into halftime (20-16).

“Coach just told us to take a deep breath at the end of the first quarter,” said senior Alyssa Griffith. “We just needed to play our game and the rest would figure itself out.”

Furthermore, the Vikettes dominated the final frame, winning the fourth 25-11.

Vinton-Shellsburg shot 5 of 6 from the field and 15 of 21 from three throw line in the final period to put the game on ice.

Griffith scored a game-high 17 on 4 of 7 shooting from the field and an 11 for 12 performance from the free throw line in the upset victory.

Griffith was one of three Vikettes to score in double figures as seniors Ashlie Meyer poured in a dozen and Abby Davis went for 11.

Vinton-Shellsburgh (18-7) started the game shooting just 1 of 13 through the opening eight minutes as Estherville Lincoln Central (24-1) went 5 of 17 over that span.

While ELC won the third by a slim two-point margin (15-13), the Midgets weren’t able to get in the way of the Vikettes’ big fourth quarter.

“This means everything,” Griffith said,. “We haven’t been here as a program in 24 years. So to not only get here, but take down the No. 1 seed, that just says a lot about our team.

“This shows that all our hard work is paying off. Since second grade we’ve been working together as a team and it’s paying off. This gives us so much momentum.”

Benton Community gets emotional win over DM Christian

DES MOINES -- The Benton Community girls’ basketball team took to the state’s biggest stage with heavy hearts, but pulled out a Class 3A quarterfinals win over Des Moines Christian, nonetheless.

Benton sophomore Tatum Schroeder, who appeared in 11 varsity games this season for the Bobcats, was diagnosed with Leukemia in recent days as the team made its way to the IGHSAU Class 3A state tournament.

It’s the furthest the Benton girls’ basketball program has made it in the state tournament.

“We’ve had a rough week with the news (about Schroeder),” said junior McKenna Kramer. “So we really wanted to come out and win for her, and for our team.

“We made history. It’s still a little shocking, but it’s an amazing feeling.”

With Schroeder on the minds of her teammates, the fourth-seeded Bobcats took out fifth-seeded Des Moines Christian in the quarterfinals by a 40-34 final.

“These girls are just outstanding,” said Benton head coach Jeff Zittergruen. “They’re a tough group. We’re resilient. When the shots aren’t falling, we rely on our defense, try to get some stops and hold it out until we can get some scores.

“We stayed the course and pulled it out.”

Benton (22-3) was led in scoring by senior Jenna Twedt, who scored 16 points.

“We worked really hard for this,” Twedt said. “It’s a really great feeling. We have all the confidence in everyone on this team.

“We try to stay consistent and not get too high or too low, and we did that this game and came out on top.”

Des Moines Christian (21-4) had to work to get back in it after falling behind 17-5 after one quarter of play.

After the upset win by Vinton-Shellsburg, it’ll be an all-WAMAC Conference battle in the semifinals.

“We know they’re a great team and know it’s going to be a battle,” Kramer said. “But we’ve beat them twice already this season and will be ready to do it again.”