The Remsen St. Mary’s girls basketball team made history in Mapleton on Thursday night.
The Hawks won their regional final over Exira-EHK by a final score of 51-43 to punch the program’s first ever ticket to the state tournament.
The first half of play was not indicative of a team who would go on to advance to the state tournament. The Hawks allowed Exira-EHK to outscore them 10-3 in the second quarter and take a 20-17 lead heading into the break. Head Coach Scott Willman says it took a change of heart and focus from his team to get back in the game.
Junior guard Mya Bunkers scored 11 points for the Hawks in the win. She says the Hawks just needed to remember all the work they have put in to this point, and that they needed to finish the game strong.
The Hawks came out a new team in the second half. The first six minutes of the third quarter saw the Hawks outscore the Spartans 17-0 to take a 14-point lead. Whitney Jensen scored 13 of her 15 points on the night in that third quarter. She says the run was big for the team’s confidence.
The Hawks were not just getting production out of Jensen in the third quarter. Coach Willman highlighted many key players including Claire Schroeder who kept the pressure on in the paint.
The Hawks rode out a back and forth fourth quarter to come away with the win in the end. It was Remsen St. Mary’s second straight appearance in the regional final, and Bunkers says there was no way they were leaving it with the same result as last year’s loss to Newell-Fonda.
The Hawks really took advantage of the year between games to improve as a team. Coach Willman says the biggest growth came from their maturity that helped them deal with difficult situations on the floor.
The Remsen St. Mary’s girls basketball program has experienced a tremendous glow-up over the last few seasons under Coach Willman. The Hawks won just four games in 2019-2020 and are now going to the state tournament. He says those players deserve recognition too for simply keeping the program alive at times.
The Hawks are a tight-nit bunch who all play volleyball, softball, and some run track with each other. Jensen says she loves getting to play sports at a high level with her teammates.
Now, the work begins for the Hawks who will enter the tournament as the four-seed, and a team that could make some noise once down there. Coach Willman knows the challenges will come, but his team is ready for it.
The Hawks will take on the five-seed West Fork at the state tournament on Wednesday, March 1 at 3:15 PM. KLEM Radio will provide live coverage of the game from Wells Fargo Arena in Des Moines.