DCG girls basketball punches state tournament ticket

Sean Cordy
Correspondent

All that stood between the Mustangs and the first girls basketball state tournament bid since 2014 was a Creston (14-7) team Dallas Center-Grimes (20-2) had already beat once this season. In Tuesday's sequel, the Mustangs wrote an even more convincing chapter, taking down the Panthers 50-28.

Strong foundation

To put DCG's annihilating performance in perspective, 20 points were the fewest points that Creston scored in an opening half this season. That was against DCG back in December. In Tuesday's regional final, the Mustang defense clamped down even harder and allowed just eight points out of the gate.

Mustangs head coach Adam Jones said having faced each other earlier in the season, they knew shutting down Creston's post-players would be vital.

Emma Miner looks to move the ball past Creston players on Tuesday, Feb. 23 in Grimes.

"We were trying to do whatever we could to pressure their guards to make getting into the post as difficult as possible," Jones added. "We got off to a quick start offensively [as well] and that helps us defensively for sure."

Creston's top player posted just 10 points and no other player eclipsed six on the night. Meanwhile, between Vanessa Bickford (13), Avery Korsching (7), Ella Lampe (7), Emma Miner (9) and Julia Reis (9), there were five Mustangs to cross that hit that six-point threshold.

The Reis Stuff

Julia Reis shoots the ball for the Mustangs during the regional final game against Creston on Tuesday, Feb. 23 in Grimes.

Though 13 points is a moderate night for Reis, she was totally in-tune as she hit back-to-back shots from beyond the arc, soon followed by a turnover-to-layup to open the second half.

Unwilling to boast about her performance, Reis put all her success on her teammates on the court. While Reis shied from the postgame spotlight, her coach took pride in her electric series.

"I think the last three or four weeks have been the best she's played in her entire career," Jones said. "She's just let the game come to her a lot more and that's been much easier for her. She's also great at getting her teammates scoring as well."

Eyes were on the prize

DCG's Vanessa Bickford drives to the basket during the regional final game against Creston on Tuesday, Feb. 23.

One thing Reis was willing to admit, as soon as the Mustangs took a 10-point lead, the team was more than confident that they'd punch their ticket to state. That was a feeling they narrowly missed out on last season, which ultimately fed the team's motivation before the season even started in November.

More:DCG girls basketball ready to take the state tournament jump in 2020

"Our goal was that we didn't enjoy how we felt at the end of the season," Jones said. "We had to be a little more mentally tough. I'm just so proud of the girls. All season long we've been in some tight situations and they've always responded."

Perhaps the toughest situation came in a major 29-point loss to Ballard in the season-opener. Reis commented that once the team responded with a win over North Polk the following game, she was confident that "2021 State qualifier Dallas Center-Grimes" would be a reality.

The DCG girls basketball team holds up the state qualifier banner on Tuesday, Feb. 23 in Grimes.