LE MARS, Iowa – Facing a depleted Sergeant Bluff-Luton squad, Le Mars had a sense of urgency and went to work early here Saturday night, cruising to a 67-36 win in an Iowa Class 4A girls regional basketball semifinal.
The ninth-ranked Bulldogs scored the game's first 14 points and never looked back, advancing to a regional final here Tuesday against No. 10 Denison-Schleswig. A win then would clinch the first state tournament berth for Le Mars since 2002.
Denison-Schleswig rolled to a 64-38 victory over Storm Lake in another semifinal.
Madison Dreckman took advantage of the absence of any inside presence for SB-L by tossing in 29 points. Sophomore Jaelynn Dreckman – Madison's cousin – was a strong compliment inside with 13 points, while senior Jenn Schneider was also in double figures with 10 points.
The Warriors went the first six minutes of the game without scoring before Anna Lucas finally found the hoop. Lucas had 13 points in her final prep game, while junior Abby Wisecup paced SB-L with 16 points.
Le Mars raced to a 17-4 lead after one quarter and held a comfortable 30-11 halftime cushion. Sergeant Bluff-Luton didn't reach double figures until just before halftime while Dreckman scored 15 of her points in the opening two quarters.
Try as they might, the No. 12 Warriors couldn't overcome the slow start and bowed out with a 14-9 record. SB-L tied Sioux City Bishop Heelan for first place in the Missouri River Activities Conference, earning its second straight league title.
Dreckman, a 6-1 junior, went over 20 points early in the fourth quarter, helping the Bulldogs extend their lead to 49-23 by the start of the final eight minutes.
“Our bigs inside did a nice job tonight, we were able to get it inside like we wanted and they did a good job of finishing,” Le Mars Coach Judd Kopperud said. “We were able to take advantage of that tonight and that was big for us.
“For us it all starts on the defensive end. I thought we really set the tone early defensively.They had 11 at half and that's a team that scores a lot, even without those two bigs. It all starts with what we do on the defensive end and the girls took a lot of pride in that tonight and came out and guarded well.”
Sergeant Bluff-Luton was without 5-11 sophomore Kenzie Foley, averaging 14.7 points per game, and 6-foot senior Kylee Christensen, averaging just under 10 an outing. Each suffered season-ending finger injuries a couple of weeks ago.