Class 4A Girls State Basketball
Ballard 58, Decorah 44

Ballard kept its composure after a shaky start and is back in the state tournament semifinals.

The fourth-seeded Bombers dominated the game after falling behind 15-2 and beat No. 5 seed Decorah 58-44 in a Class 4A quarterfinal to reach the semifinal round for the third straight year.

Lily Hillebrand got the Bombers going with her 3-point shooting, 6-foot-1 Alliyah Thompson gave them a presence defensively and sophomore Raegan Loewe finished things off with a strong fourth quarter.

Loewe, who doesn’t start, scored Ballard’s first 11 points of the fourth quarter and finished with 17 on 7-for-10 shooting. Hillebrand scored 12 points on 4-for-6 3-point shooting and Thompson scored 12 to go with eight rebounds, four assists and seven blocks.

Kiley Calvert added eight points while playing only 9 minutes and Lily Beall helped out with seven points and eight rebounds.

Yazmeen Whitsitt hit five 3-pointers – most from well beyond the arc – and finished with 17 points to lead Decorah. Bryar Duwe added 12 points and eight rebounds, while Haley Gossman scored 10 and grabbed 10 rebounds.

Decorah reached the state tournament for the first time since 2006, but looked like the more experienced tourney squad  early on, making six of its first nine shots while racing to a 15-2 lead. Ballard, meanwhile, missed seven of its first eight shots and didn’t get its second basket until Calvert hit a 3-pointer with 1:12 left in the opening quarter.

Hillebrand beat the buzzer with a 3 to cut the lead to 17-10, but the Vikings went back up by 10 on Whitsitt’s deep 3 early in the second quarter. Not long after that, the Bombers started to click and stepped up their defense.

Hillebrand swished three 3-pointers to help produce a 23-all tie at halftime and it was all Ballard after that. A 17-2 run that started with three straight layups gave the Bombers a 40-28 lead after three quarters and Loewe’s big fourth quarter, which included a nifty give-and-go with Thompson and a slick reverse layup, kept them safely ahead.

Ballard will take a 19-3 record against top-seeded Dallas Center-Grimes in a semifinal at 5 p.m. Thursday, a rematch of their season opener, which Ballard won 56-48. Ballard won the 4A title in 2021 and was second in Class 3A last year.

Decorah, which had a 14-game winning streak broken, finishes 21-3.