When opportunity arose, Saint Ansgar took advantage.
The fifth-seeded Saints capitalized on second chances and turnovers and got balanced scoring in beating fourth-seeded Montezuma 51-46 to reach the Class 1A semifinals.
Saint Ansgar rallied from an early 10-point deficit to gain a tie at halftime. Then, after seven lead changes, the Saints finally went ahead to stay when Madison Hillman got behind her defender on the low block and banked in a shot with 5:16 left. Hillman's bucket made it 37-36 and the lead grew to 40-36 when Brooklyn Hackbart converted a three-point play off an inbounds pass. That proved to be enough for the Saints to hold one and earn a semifinal date with defending champion Newell-Fonda. They'll meet at 1:30 p.m. Friday.
Montezuma didn't go away easily, getting the lead down to 40-39 at one point and trailing just 46-44 after Shelby Conger's 3-pointer with 50 seconds left. But the Bravettes had to foul to get the ball back and Saint Ansgar made five of six free throws to secure the victory in its first trip to state since 2001. Saint Ansgar outscored Montezuma 13-7 on second-chance points and 18-11 in points off turnovers. The Saints went 0-for-5 from 3-point range, but it didn't matter because they collected 28 points in the paint. Gracie Urbatsch led Saint Ansgar with 15 points and grabbed seven rebounds. Hackbart and Hali Anderson each scored 13 points, with Hackbart grabbing 10 rebounds and Anderson adding four assists and four steals. Hillman finished with eight points, nine rebounds and three blocks.
University of Iowa recruit Shateah Wetering led Montezuma with 22 points in her final high school game. She also grabbed eight rebounds, handed out four assists, made four steals and blocked two shots. Conger and Elise Boulton each scored nine for the Bravettes. Montezuma hit three early 3-pointers in building a 14-4 lead but made just one of 11 shots in the second quarter, giving Saint Ansgar a chance to get back in it.
Saint Ansgar advances with a 22-2 record. Montezuma finishes 23-2 after its third straight state tournament appearance, which came 50 years after the Bravettes won the 1970 state championship. That team will be honored on Saturday.