GIRLS' STATE BASKETBALL 2019

West Hancock leads throughout, downs Montezuma in girls' state basketball semifinals

Eagles will face Newell-Fonda for the 1A title

DES MOINES — A basketball game is determined by dozens of plays, hundreds of moments.

One moment haunted Janel Burgess most in the postgame press conference.

“We hang our hat on hustle plays, but I can still see the ball sitting there at the free-throw line in the fourth quarter,” the Montezuma head coach said. “We didn’t go dive on the loose ball. They got it, and turned it into a three-point play.”

And that was the beginning of the end for the Bravettes.

Rachel Leerar converted that three-point play with 3:27 left for an eight-point lead, and second-ranked West Hancock defeated No. 3 Montezuma, 59-50, in a Class 1A semifinal at the girls’ state tournament Friday afternoon at Wells Fargo Arena.

Leerar registered 25 points, seven rebounds and six assists as the Eagles (25-1) advanced to Saturday’s 1A final. They’ll face No. 1 Newell-Fonda (26-0) at 7 p.m.

“I’ve always been short, and I’ve usually played up a grade or two,” said the 5-foot-7 Leerar. “But still, what I do is drive. I get my shot blocked sometimes, but I’ve got to keep going.”

Montezuma (22-3) never led Friday. The Bravettes tied the game three times, the last at 35-35 with 2:05 left in the third quarter.

West Hancock held a 44-41 lead when Leerar got loose on two consecutive back-door drives. Then, at 48-43, she converted the play that bugged Burgess most.

“(Leerar) is a good player, and we couldn’t stop her,” Montezuma’s Riley Gatton said. “And we couldn’t box out and get enough rebounds.”

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Leerar scored 10 points in the fourth quarter. Amanda Chizek added 12 points and 17 rebounds, and Madison Eisenman scored 11 points.

Shateah Wetering, a junior committed to the University of Iowa, led Montezuma with 14 points and nine rebounds, but was 5 of 16 from the floor.

“This was a special team,” she said. “This wasn’t a loss, because we’re all so close.”

Said Gatton, a senior who added 12 points: “We have a bond like no other. It sucks because we won’t be able to get it back.”

WEST HANCOCK 59 MONTEZUMA 50

1A State Semifinal, at Des Moines

MONTEZUMA (50): Mya Pargeon 0-2 0-2 0, Shateah Wetering 5-16 3-4 14, Elise Boulton 3-7 0-0 9, Shelby Conger 0-5 5-6 5, Riley Gatton 4-11 3-5 12, Maddy McKeag 1-4 0-0 3, Dylan Holland 3-4 1-2 7. Totals 16-49 12-19 50.

WEST HANCOCK (59): Rachel Leerar 11-19 3-5 25, Madison Eisenman 4-8 1-1 11, Mahayla Faust 0-5 0-1 0, Riley Hiscocks 2-3 0-0 4, Amanda Chizek 4-7 4-6 12, Kennedy Kelly 3-6 1-2 7, Leah Aitchison 0-0 0-0 0. Totals 24-48 9-15 59.

Halftime: West Hancock 29, Montezuma 24. 3-point goals: Montezuma 6-16 (Wetering 1-4, Boulton 3-7, Conger 0-1, Gatton 1-3, McKeag 1-1), West Hancock 2-12 (Leerar 0-2, Eisenman 2-5, Faust 0-3, Hiscocks 0-1, Kelly 0-1). Team fouls: Montezuma 16, West Hancock 16. Fouled out: none. Rebounds: Montezuma 28 (Wetering 9), West Hancock 32 (Chizek 17). Assists: Montezuma 8 (Wetering 4), West Hancock 13 (Leerar 6). Steals: Montezuma 5 (Wetering 3), West Hancock 9 (Kelly 4). Turnovers: Montezuma 14, West Hancock 14.

l Comments: (319) 368-8857; jeff.linder@thegazette.com

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