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Pleasant Valley locks up second consecutive state semifinals appearance

Dowling holds off Davenport North

By Ryan Timmerman | Photos by Matthew Putney 

DES MOINES - The Class 5A top-seeded Pleasant Valley Spartans made plays when they needed to. 

Behind Halle Vice’s game-high 18 points, Pleasant Valley clinched a spot in the 5A IGHSAU state semifinals with a 43-28 win over eighth-seeded West Des Moines Valley on Monday at the Wells Fargo Arena in Des Moines.

The Spartans go back to the 5A semifinals for the second consecutive season.

“We just needed to settle in,” Halle Vice said. “It was just the matter of us versus us. Most of our mistakes were because of us, and we just needed to settle down.

“Everyone on this team wants it bad, and we’ve put in so much work and everyone has so much confidence in one another, because we’re all we have.”

Senior Jessie Clemons added nine points for PV, and sophomore Quinn Vice chipped in a half-dozen.

“We take a heck of a lot of pride in (being able to come up with a play),” Clemons said. “It’s not easily obtained. But it comes from a lot of work on the court and a lot of trust in each other.”

Spartan sophomore point guard Reagan Pagniano tallied a game-high four assists, including one to Quinn Vice for a 3-pointer that started the game’s scoring and another to Halle Vice just as WDM Valley was hoping to get back into it.

The Halle Vice 3 came after Pagniano drove into the paint and kicked it out to the University of Marquette recruit from the corner to put the Spartans up 40-28.

“I have the absolute utmost confidence in this team,” said Pleasant Valley head coach Jennifer Goetz. “I love this group, I believe in this group. There’s just something about them. They don’t want to lose. I think that made a lot of difference in keeping their composure down the stretch.

“Some people may have been wondering why I didn’t call a timeout when it got (within single digits), but they need to figure it out on their own. It’s a tough place to learn, but they figured it out on their own. That was a huge 3 by Halle in the corner.”

The deep ball gave PV momentum back after the Tigers cut the lead to single digits when a strong take to the hoop by Valley junior Elise Jaeger made it 37-28 with six minutes left in the fourth.

Jaeger and senior Brynne Katcher each had eight points for the Valley high mark.

Pleasant Valley (24-0) was deliberate offensively for most of the contest, though things did get sloppy, especially early on as both teams ended with 16 turnovers. However, the Spartans were efficient shooting as a team, going 15-31 on all field goal attempts, 5 of 8 from 3-point range and 8 of 11 from the free throw line.

After the Spartans opened up a 14-6 lead after one quarter of play, the Tigers (15-9) held even in the second period as each team scored 10 in the frame, but PV would win the second half 19-12 to move into the semifinals on Thursday to face Dowling Catholic.

“I feel like we have total confidence in each other,” Pagniano said. “We stay composed. When things got close, we found a way to close it out. It shows that we are a good team and can compete here.”

Dowling dominates Davenport North

While Pleasant Valley awaited its opponent after its quarterfinal win, Dowling Catholic denied Davenport North the chance to make it an all-Mississippi Athletic Conference semifinal by taking it to the Wildcats.

North made some plays late, but otherwise couldn’t find a groove in a 52-38 loss to the Maroons on Monday at the Wells Fargo Arena in Des Moines in the IGHSAU girls state basketball tournament quarterfinals.

“It was huge for us,” said Dowling senior Julia Moore, who ended with five points and five rebounds. “We just knew we had to come in and play our game and play with energy.

“Defense is a big priority for us, so we knew we had to lock in on that end from the start, and I think we did a good job of that.”

Dowling (20-4) won the first quarter by a 13-9 margin and then proceeded to take the second, 15-4.

To its credit, North (21-3) battled back to take the third, 12-10, but couldn’t overtake the dominant Maroons.

Dowling’s defense gave the Wildcats fits in the first half. North shot just 3 of 10 in the first quarter and 2 of 14 in the second while Dowling was 9 of 23 from the field in the first half.

Dowling sophomore Ava Zediker scored a game-high 25 points and grabbed 12 rebounds in the win.

“I definitely found a rhythm on offense,” Zediker said. “We push each other a lot in practice and that’s helped throughout the season.”

Freshman Ellie Mueller added a dozen points off the Dowling bench to go with seven rebounds and three blocks.

North sophomore Journey Houston went for 14 points and six boards. The 5-foot-11 forward was just 2 of 7 in the first half, but improved over the final two quarters to finish 6 of 12 from the field.

Dowling out-rebounded North 42 to 26 despite giving up some size.

“Davenport North is a very good team,” said Dowling head coach Kristin Meyer. “I think (North’s) length gave us some trouble and they drive to the basket really hard.

“But our kids kept their composure. Ava hit some big shots and we finished really well. Rebounding was huge for us. Our defense in the second quarter, specifically, was fantastic.”