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Fifth trip to state for Women of Troy

Iowa City West High edges SE Polk, 60-54, in 5A regional final
The West High Women of Troy grab the state qualifier banner from athletic director Craig Huegel Tuesday, Feb. 21, after defeating Southeast Polk, 60-54, in a Class 5A regional final at home. (photo by Chris Umscheid)

IOWA CITY– The West High Women of Troy survived a Class 5A regional final Tuesday, Feb. 21, at home to return to the state tournament after missing out last year.
West knocked off the Rams of Southeast Polk, 60-54, to advance and face Waukee in the quarterfinal rounds of the state tournament on Wednesday, March 1, at the Wells Fargo Arena in Des Moines.
Waukee denied West a tournament trip last year with a 70-68 loss in a 5A regional final at Waukee.
West pulled out a 9-5 lead in the first period against the Rams with baskets from Logan Cook and Emma Koch, as well as a 3-point basket from Rachel Saunders. West was ahead, 12-9, near the end of the quarter but the Rams sank a 3-pointer at the buzzer for a 12-12 tie.
The Women of Troy trailed the Rams in the second when Saunders launched her second successful 3-pointer to make it 20-19 in favor of Southeast Polk, and a free throw by Katie McGrane tied the game at 20. Paige Beckner nailed a pair of free throws for a 22-20 lead, while a Cailyn Morgan 3-pointer made it 25-22. Again the Rams scored at the end of the period, but West High held a 25-24 advantage at halftime.
Maddie Huinker sank back-to-back 3-pointers in the third period to give West a 33-26 lead, prompting the Rams to take a time-out. The Rams came away from the pause and sank a two-point basket to start a nine-point run and a 35-35 tie. The game was tied again at the end of the quarter, at 37 all, before the Women of Troy cut loose in the final eight minutes. Logan Cook made a grab on the Rams’ end of the floor and drove it home for a layup and a 41-37 advantage while a pair of Morgan free throws made it 51-42.
The Rams threatened and narrowed the gap to come within four points with six seconds remaining. A pair of Saunders free throws, however, sealed the win.
Saunders and Cook led West High with 16 points apiece including two 3-pointers and eight rebounds for Saunders.
The win ended Southeast Polk’s season at 14-9 and ended a six-year consecutive state tournament appearance streak.
West took a 20-3 record to Des Moines in the school’s fifth state tournament appearance. The Women of Troy won the Championship in 2012.
In addition, Cook and Saunders were named to the Iowa Girls Coaches Association’s Class 5A All-District (East) Team. City High Coach Bill McTaggart was named the District Coach of the Year.

SCORING: R. Saunders 16, L. Cook 16, E. Koch 8, C. Morgan 7, M. Huinker 6, K. McGrane 3, L. Zacharias 2, P. Beckner 2.
THREE-POINT BASKETS: Saunders 2, Huinker 2, Morgan 1.