ROCKFORD – The Central Springs and Rockford girls basketball teams met twice in the regular season.
The two teams split the season series with a cumulative point differential of one point, so when the teams met in Class 2A regional action on Tuesday, nobody would have expected anything but a nailbiter.
For more than two quarters, the contest did not disappoint as the teams found themselves tied at 25 with less than six minutes to go in the third quarter.
At that point, the Lady Warriors took over at both ends of the floor as they outscored Central Springs 28-9 over the final 13 minutes for a 53-34 victory and a spot in Friday’s regional semifinal action.
“We knew we had to work hard,” Rockford senior guard Emma Staudt said, and that is exactly what happened down the stretch.
Staudt, the Lady Warriors' leading scorer on the season with a 15.5 per-game average, was held to just one point in the first half, but she came out of the locker room looking for her shot.
Staudt netted 11 points in the fourth quarter and 16 in the second half to lead the Lady Warriors’ run.
Defensively, Rockford had one major goal — to know where Panthers’ guard Kaylee Parks was at all times.
Parks, who averaged more than 21 points per game this season, managed to finish the game with 20, but the Panthers' offense in the second half was just 3-of-14 from the floor and totaled just 12 points over the final two quarters.
“We put a lot of emphasis on controlling Parks,” Lady Warriors coach Blake Hansen said. “It was very similar to what other teams have done against us.”
In addition to her team-high 17 points, Staudt also had 11 rebounds and six steals.
Madison McGregor also had a double-double for Rockford as she finished with 14 points and 10 rebounds.
Theresa Jones added eight points for the Lady Warriors.
Rockford (19-3) moves on to host West Fork on Friday.
The two teams tied for the Top of Iowa Conference East Division title and split their season series with Rockford claiming a 42-31 win on Dec. 2 and the Warhawks claiming a 55-51 on Jan. 13.