Even without a big game from star center Audi Crooks, Bishop Garrigan of Algona still had enough to win a state championship.
But it sure wasn’t easy.
Everyone played a role as Bishop Garrigan erased the disappointment of championship game losses the last two years with a 52-49 victory over MMCRU for the Class 1A title and a wrap to the 2022 state tournament.
Four clutch free throws from all-tournament captain Molly Joyce and a last-second block by Abbie Capesius lifted the Golden Bears (25-3) to that elusive title after MMCRU had stormed back from a 12-point deficit to tie it.
MMCRU (26-2) had upset three-time defending champion Newell-Fonda in the semifinals and almost pulled off another stunner. But the Royals fell just short and left with the satisfaction of an outstanding season and the school’s first appearance in the championship game.
Joyce finished with 18 points to lead all scorers. Crooks added 15 points and grabbed 13 rebounds, but that was a modest scoring night for the 6-foot-3 junior, who is being recruited by Division I college programs from across the country. She had scored 57 points in the first two games at state.
Capesius finished with seven points and five rebounds, Meredith Tigges hit a couple of 3-pointers for six points and Emma Grandgenett scored five.
Taylor Harpenau and Mya Holmes each scored 11 points for MMCRU, Emily Dreckman added 10 and Kora Alesch and Ellie Hilbrands scored eight apiece. Hilbrands also grabbed 10 rebounds.
Bishop Garrigan appeared to be in control with a 46-34 lead and less than 5 minutes to play. But the Royals stormed back with 12 straight points, sparked by consecutive 3-pointers from Holmes and Harpenau, to pull into a tie at 46 on Alesch’s baseline jumper with 2:40 to play.
The Golden Bears then went to their insurance policy, getting the ball inside to Crooks, and the right-hander banked in soft left-handed layup for a 48-46 lead. She then rebounded a miss at the other end and Bishop Garrigan went into a delay game to force the Royals into fouling.
Joyce, who had missed the front end of two 1-and-1 opportunities during MMCRU’s late rally, swished four in a row and Capesius blocked a last-second 3-point shot to close it out.
Crooks, Dreckman and Harpenau also made the all-tournament team, along with Macy Sievers of Newell-Fonda and Kamryn Kurt of North Linn.