Home Sports MMCRU Advances to State Semifinals with Win Over Exira-EHK

MMCRU Advances to State Semifinals with Win Over Exira-EHK

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The fourth-ranked MMCRU girls basketball team did what no girls basketball team from Marcus, Meriden, Cleghorn, or Remsen has done in 36 years. That is win a state tournament game. The Royals beat fifth-ranked Exira-EHK in Des Moines 50-39. 

The Royals came out of the gate hot on offense. MMCRU allowed Exira-EHK the first basket of the game and followed that up by scoring the next 15 points to lead 15-2 midway through the first. MMCRU Head Coach Gillian Letsche says that her team was chomping at the bit to step back on the floor at Wells Fargo Arena. 

MMCRU Senior Taylor Harpenau says the Royals had the motivation driving from last year’s loss to the Spartans.

The MMCRU defense came to play against the Spartans. The Royals outrebounded Exira-EHK 44-21 and held the Spartans to shoot just 29.4% from the field. Coach Letsche says that the key to her team’s success on the defensive end came from their active hands. 

MMCRU Senior Emily Dreckman was one of the key contributors on the defensive end pulling down six rebounds, blocking three shots, and coming up with two steals. Dreckman says that the Royals’ communication makes them an outstanding defense. 

Dreckman didn’t just excel on defense. The senior led the way offensively with 18 points on 8-15 from the field. Dreckman says the Royals defensive play helps lead to transition offense.

The last time a girls basketball team from any of these communities won a game at the state tournament was 1986 when the Marcus-Meriden-Cleghorn Eagles beat Denison 77-75 in the round of 16. Coach Letsche says for this team to make that history speaks towards their drive since they were young.

The Royals now get the honor of matching up with the state’s top-ranked team and three-time defending state champs in Newell-Fonda. The Mustangs bring a team to the court that excels at everything. One of those things is being an offense that averages 71 points per game and shoots 50% from the field. Coach Letsche will continue to emphasize defensive execution before Friday. 

Newell-Fonda’s defense poses some challenges as well. The Mustangs forced North Mahaska to commit 40 turnovers in their quarterfinal win over the Warhawks. Harpenau and the Royals got a brief test of full-court defense late in their win over Exira-EHK. She says that seeing that press gives them idea of what to do better for Friday.

The Royals improve to 24-1 with the win and will play Newell-Fonda at 1:30 PM on Friday in Des Moines. KLEM Radio will provide live coverage of the game starting at 1:15 on Friday.

Exira-EHK falls to 23-2 with the loss which is only their second in the quarterfinal round at state in their last six trips.