Class 5A State Tournament

Johnston 70, Southeast Polk 48

Johnston completed a three-game season sweep of Southeast Polk and moved a step close to a second consecutive Class 5A championship, beating the Rams 70-48 to open the 2023 state tournament.

Southeast Polk had stayed with the Dragons throughout in an 82-77 loss in the regular-season finale less than three weeks ago. But Johnston took control early in this one, holding the Rams to four field goals in the first 16 ½ minutes while building a 13-point lead that grew throughout the second half behind some torrid shooting.

The second-seeded Dragons shot 70.6 percent (12-for-17) over the final two quarters and 65 percent for the game. They got to the basket for layups and also were sharp from the perimeter, shooting 6-for-9 from 3-point range in the second half.

Junior Aili Tanke, an Iowa State commit, led the Dragons with 16 points and 11 rebounds, making 5-of-7 shots, including three 3-pointers. Emma Hampton went 7-for-8 from the field in scoring 15 points and Aaliyah Riley added 11 on 5-for-8 shooting.

Touted freshman Jenica Lewis scored eight points and filled the stat sheet with six assists, four blocks, three steals and two rebounds in her state tournament debut.

Seventh-seeded Southeast Polk got 14 points from Drake signee Brooklin Dailey, nine from Jacie Mitchell and eight from Zoe Hinze.

Mitchell hit a 3 for the first points of the game, but Johnston answered with 10 straight points and led from then on.

Southeast Polk drew to 12-9 on Stella Charleston’s 3 – the Rams first five baskets were 3-pointers – then went scoreless for almost 7 minutes and Johnston began pulling away. Tanke’s pull-up 3 gave the Dragons a 34-22 halftime lead and they blew it open with a 12-4 third-quarter run that put them up 51-28.

Tanke’s 3 in the opening minutes of the fourth quarter made it 57-31 and the lead grew from there, reaching 70-36 with 4 ½ minutes left.

Johnston, seeking its third championship in four years, takes a 23-1 record into a semifinal game at 10 a.m. Thursday. Southeast Polk, in the tournament for the fourth time in the last five years, finishes 15-8.