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Girls basketball: Lady Dees stopped by Golden Hawks in 3A regional opener

Feb. 13—WELLMAN — Albia had their looks on Saturday night.

The Lady Dees also had a physical, long and tall group of Mid-Prairie in the frame of many of those looks at the hoop during the Class 3A, Region 5 girls basketball quarterfinal. As a result, Albia missed 14 of their first 15 shots from the field and never recovered, falling 57-29 on Saturday night ending their season with a final record of 7-12.

"Mid-Prairie's going to be really good in a couple of years. They're young, but they're very physical and strong," Albia head girls basketball coach Katy Dykes said. "We knew this was going to be a tough opponent, but we felt well prepared."

Albia may have even had too much time to prepare after closing out the regular season with a 33-20 win at Pleasantville, the third win in four games for the Lady Dees, nine days earlier. Albia had a game originally scheduled at Moravia that would have served as a postseason tune-up called off due to low numbers for the Mohawks and the team's first-round 1A regional game at Seymour coming just two days later.

"We didn't have a chance to get someone else on the schedule, so that kind of hurt us," Dykes said. "Not being able to play, we had to prepare against each other all week. It's just different, different tones and a different level of energy and intensity, compared to a game."

The physical advantage early for Mid-Prairie were somewhat negated by a slow shooting start as the Golden Hawks missed nine of their first 11 shots from the field, allowing Albia to pull within 4-3 midway through the first quarter on a 3-pointer by Lillian DeMoss. That deep shot would be the only field goal made by Albia in the first quarter as the Lady Dees struggled to finish at the rim dealing with the physical nature of the Golden Hawks leading to rushed shots that either came up short or went over the basket entirely.

"I don't think we've experienced anything like that were girls were allowed to reach in disrupt us," DeMoss said. "We had high hopes coming, but we started off rough. Our defense didn't have a very good night. Our shooting wasn't very good either. We had a couple looks, but we just couldn't finish and they were able to get the ball back with their length."

Mid-Prairie pulled away down the stretch of the opening quarter, scoring 13 of the final 15 points in the period before back-to-back 3-pointers by Nora Pennington and Brooklyn Schneider opened a 23-5 lead for the Golden Hawks. Even when Albia began to connect from the field, Mid-Prairie had a response as a putback by Pennington after finding Callie Huber inside helped the Golden Hawks continue to stretch out their lead in the second quarter, ultimately taking a 41-15 lead into halftime.

"Trying to find that next level in our preparation is the next step we need to take as a program," Dykes said. "We need to be able to mimic the level of intensity that teams like Mid-Prairie can play with."

Schneider and Pennington each scored 13 points to pace a balanced attack on both ends of the court for Mid-Prairie. Nine different players scored for the Golden Hawks while nine different players also had at least one of Mid-Prairie's 20 total steals against the Lady Dees.

"Mid-Prairie is a good team representing a good conference on this side of the state," Dykes said. "I think that definitely showed."

DeMoss fought to the end, finishing with 12 points against the Golden Hawks. Albia forced 24 turnovers by Mid-Prairie with DeMoss collecting four steals.

"I just tried to do my part," DeMoss said. "Sometimes, it's not enough to win."

Mid-Prairie (11-10) will face No. 13 Chariton on Wednesday night at the Charger Dome in Lucas County with the winner advancing to play either Davis County or No. 4 Solon for a state tournament berth this Saturday night. Albia, meanwhile, will look forward to next season graduating seniors Juliana Brown, Makenna Cronin and Janelle Clark.

"There are tons of building blocks with this program and tons of building blocks with the kids that are coming back," Dykes said. "The girls have a lot of hunger to get better. We had great senior leadership. They've established what Albia girls basketball will look like going forward.

"The score didn't go our way, but there are a lot of wins to take away from a season like this."

— Scott Jackson can be reached at sjackson@ottumwacourier.com. Follow him on Twitter@CourierScott.