Prep Basketball

Peaking Monticello Panthers take down another top-5 foe in state quarterfinals

Monticello answers every threat from No. 5 Clear Lake

DES MOINES — The Monticello Panthers stung another top-five team, and carry an air of invincibilty.

“We’re definitely at our peak right now,” Lauren Ries said. “We’ve started to play together. When we do that, we’re unbeatable.”

Ries scored 22 points, and the ninth-ranked Panthers answered every surge No. 5 Clear Lake could present in a 61-50 Class 3A quarterfinal triumph at the girls’ state basketball tournament Tuesday afternoon at Wells Fargo Arena.

“Our girls’ goals are high,” Panthers Coach Donnie Kremer said. “We’ve been playing as a team lately. At times this season, we’ve strayed from that. But when we do, we don’t think anybody can beat us.”

Monticello (20-5) won for the 12th time in the last 13 games. That includes two double-digit victories over top-five teams; the Panthers shellacked No. 4 Osage in the regional finals.

Up next: No. 2 Sioux Center (23-2) in a 3A semifinal at 6:45 p.m. Thursday. The Warriors beat No. 10 Red Oak, 76-60, and advanced to their third straight semifinal.

Ries’ output got her to a milestone; she has scored 1,006 points in her career. Jordan Kuper added 15 points and 10 rebounds, and Taylor McDonald chipped in 14 points, including six straight free throws to put a bow on the outcome.


“We have an advantage because we have both an inside and an outside game,” said Kuper, a strong-bodied 6-foot-2 sophomore with much potential.

Monticello held a seven-point halftime advantage, but Clear Lake (22-3) carved it to 37-36 with a six-point run minway through the third quarter. Ries converted a three-point play to make it 40-36, then later hit a 3-pointer to give the Panthers a 51-42 cushion with 5:00 left in the game.

Chloe Mueller and Lexi Fasbender hit back-to-back treys to bring the Lions within 51-48, but Kuper turned an offensive rebound into a basket on the next possession. Kuper located a cutting Maddie Lambert for a basket and a seven-point lead with 1:55 left, then McDonald finished the deal from the line.

“We were well-prepared for this game,” Ries said. “We’ve played in a lot of close games, and our conference (the River Valley) is really good.

“I’m a senior, and we’ve kept saying, ‘Next year’s the year. Next year’s the year.’ Now, this is finally the year.”

Jordyn Barragy paced Clear Lake with 20 points and 13 rebounds. Sara Faber added 12 points, Fasbender 10.


Class 3A State Quarterfinal, at Des Moines

MONTICELLO (61): Taylor McDonald 2-9 8-8 14, Maddie Fellinger 0-2 0-0 0, Lauren Ries 7-10 5-6 22, Maddie Lambert 3-5 0-2 7, Jordan Kuper 6-11 2-4 15, Caitlyn Cruise 1-1 0-0 2, Sydney Hansen 0-0 0-0 0, Savanah Kremer 0-0 0-0 0, Meredith Melchert 0-0 0-0 0, Carly Hayen 0-1 1-2 1, Gabrielle Steiner 0-0 0-0 0. Totals 19-39 16-22 61.

CLEAR LAKE (50): Sara Faber 5-12 1-2 12, Chloe Mueller 1-6 0-0 3, Gretchen Jones 0-2 0-0 0, Lexi Fasbender 4-5 0-0 10, Jordyn Barragy 8-19 2-2 20, Julie Merfeld 0-1 0-0 0, Ali Maulsby 1-2 0-0 3, Zoe Fasbender 0-3 2-2 2. Totals 19-50 5-6 50.


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Halftime: Monticello 33, Clear Lake 26. 3-point goals: Monticello 7-12 (McDonald 2-4, Fellinger 0-1, Ries 3-4, Lambert 1-1, Kuper 1-2), Clear Lake 7-25 (Faber 1-2, Mueller 1-6, Jones 0-2, L.Fasbender 2-3, Barragy 2-8, Maulsby 1-2, Z.Fasbender 0-2). Team fouls: Monticello 8, Clear Lake 16. Fouled out: none. Rebounds: Monticello 29 (Kuper 10), Clear Lake 27 (Barragy 13). Assists: Monticello 11 (McDonald 5), Clear Lake 7 (L.Fasbender 3). Steals: Monticello 8 (Ries 4), Clear Lake 6 (six with 1). Turnovers: Monticello 12, Clear Lake 13.

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