116 3rd St SE
Cedar Rapids, Iowa 52401
DES MOINES — Ella Imler had a chance to clinch it at the free-throw line.
'I told her she was going to get another opportunity,' Coach Scot Moenck said.
'One thing we talk about, move on to the next play, the next shot,' Imler said.
With six seconds left, Imler went back to the line, with an opportunity to win it.
Imler's two free throws — and one final stop at the other end — sent top-ranked Maquoketa Valley past No. 4 Nodaway Valley, 47-45, in a Class 2A semifinal at the girls' state basketball tournament Friday morning at Wells Fargo Arena.
The Wildcats (25-0) have a 4 p.m. appointment Saturday with No. 2 Dike-New Hartford (25-0) in the 2A championship game. The Wolverines topped No. 3 West Branch, 57-47.
'We have 32 minutes left, and we're going to leave it all on the floor,' Taya Tucker said.
Maquoketa Valley prevailed despite letting an eight-point lead slide away in the final 4 1/2 minutes.
The Wolverines (24-1) got within 45-42 on Lexi Shike's basket with 1:30 left. Imler was fouled with 59 seconds left, but missed the front end of the one-and-one. Nodaway Valley rebounded, and Macy Kuhns tied it with a three-point play with 0:45 left.
As Maquoketa Valley was setting up a final play, the Wolverines were called for a reach on Imler, 30 feet from the basket.
Moenck's words of encouragement?
'I told her if she missed, I wouldn't come to her graduation party,' he said, with a wink.
Meanwhile, Imler walked to the line, gathered herself and delivered.
'Every time I go there, it's just confidence. I think it's going to go in,' she said.
The job wasn't complete yet.
After each team called a timeout, a long pass was deflected and went out of bounds in the frontcourt with 4.5 seconds left. The Wildcats dug in, kept the Wolverines out of the lane, and Tucker deflected a last-ditch entry pass as time expired.
The final defensive stand March 5, 2021
— Jeff Linder (@jtlinder)
The reward, a second trip to the state finals in school history. Maquoketa Valley was the 2A runner-up to Underwood in 2003.
'It's kind of numbing, really,' said Emerson Whittenbaugh, who led all scorers with 19 points, and at one point, made eight straight shots from the field. 'All those early-morning practices, that offseason grind ...
'We get to play one more game, with a chance to get something super special.'
Maquoketa Valley led 26-24 at halftime, then gained some separation with a seven-point surge for a 36-26 advantage. But the Wolverines battled back, and forced the Wildcats — Imler, specifically — to win it at the end.
Imler and Tucker added nine points for Maquoketa Valley. Maddax DeVault led Nodaway Valley with 15 points.
The season has been emotion-packed for the Wildcats, and the ride isn't over yet.
'I'm just happy for the kids,' Moenck said. 'They're like my own kids. They come into my house. They eat my food.'
He paused and exhaled.
'I love them.'
MAQUOKETA VALLEY 47, NODAWAY VALLEY 45
Class 2A Semifinal, at Des Moines
NODAWAY VALLEY (45): Maddax DeVault 5-9 3-5 15, Lindsey Davis 3-7 4-6 11, Macy Kuhns 1-2 1-1 3, Lexi Shike 3-6 2-2 8, Corinne Bond 3-5 0-2 6, Annika Nelson 1-1 0-1 2. Totals 16-30 10-17 45.
MAQUOKETA VALLEY (47): Carissa Sabers 2-2 0-0 6, Kyle Chesnut 1-3 0-0 2, Ella Imler 2-9 4-5 9, Taya Tucker 3-4 3-6 9, Emerson Whittenbaugh 8-12 3-3 19, Kennedy Rausch 0-3 2-2 2. Totals 16-33 12-16 47.
Halftime: Maquoketa Valley 26, Nodaway Valley 24. 3-point goals: Nodaway Valley 3-11 (DeVault 2-6, Davis 1-4, Kuhns 0-1), Maquoketa Valley 3-11 (Sabers 2-2, Imler 1-6, Rausch 0-3). Team fouls: Nodaway Valley 15, Maquoketa Valley 13. Fouled out: none. Rebounds: Nodaway Valley 20 (Bond 8), Maquoketa Valley 17 (Tucker 6). Assists: Nodaway Valley 10 (Kuhns 8), Maquoketa Valley 9 (Whittenbaugh 3). Steals: Nodaway Valley 7 (Davis 3), Maquoketa Valley 9 (Imler, Tucker 3). Turnovers: Nodaway Valley 14, Maquoketa Valley 10.
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