DES MOINES | The Bishop Garrigan Golden Bears found their note in the ceiling tiles of the locker room at Wells Fargo Arena, but there was no trophy next to it.
When an underdog takes the floor against a No. 1 seed, there’s two ways it can play out. In upset or defeat, unfortunately, the Bears fell to the Springville Orioles (22-3) in the Class 1A state quarterfinal, 54-36.
Head Coach Brandon Schwab has emphasized the idea of shooting-your-shot all year, and the Golden Bears (17-8) were doing that, but they just weren’t making them.
Freshman Kaylyn Meyers and senior Grace McGuire shot a combined 10 shots in the first quarter alone and made one. None of the shot attempts came from school career-leader senior Jenna Boelter, and that was a problem.
“It was how good their defense was on recognizing her and making it tough on her,” Schwab said. “The game plan would be to never have Jenna not shoot as many shots as we can...You can’t simulate in practice how good that zone defense is.”
But the Bears were doing much the same to the Orioles, limiting their top-scorer, 5-foot-11 senior Mikayla Nachazel, to six points in the first half. They just had other options.
“It’s hard to take away one thing because they’ve got another punch coming at you,” Schwab said. “There’s a reason they’ve won back-to-back state titles.”
Boelter made two 3s in the second quarter, but McGuire and Meyers continued to struggle making shots. The Golden Bears were outsized and couldn’t penetrate the defense to get to the paint, forcing them in and around the arch for jump-shots.
At half, Garrigan was 4 for 28 from the field. Springville went 11 for 21 for a 29-10 lead.
“I told them we didn’t come down here to play 16 minutes, we came down here to play 32,” Schwab said. “At all costs, win the 3rd quarter.”
Starting to break the paint, McGuire grabbed her first shot. Sophomore Madison Meister stood at the bottom of the key for the next, banking in her first. Senior Whitney Hovey added a layup and senior Caitlin Thilges made two from the top of the key.
The problem was stopping the Orioles. Nachazel flipped the switch and piled on a nine-point performance and the rest of the team was already warmed up. The Orioles outscored the the Golden Bears 16-14 in the third to maintain a 45-24 lead.
McGuire and Boelter concluded their careers with their final buckets in the fourth while Meyers showed what the future might hold. The lineups changed as the clock ran out, and the Golden Bears would leave with a plaque to commemorate their historic year of making the state tournament for the first time since 2000.
Schwab concluded his first trip to state.
Boelter added 10 points to her career-record of 1,510 for a grand total of 1,520. McGuire added nine and Meyers eight.
The Golden Bears will lose senior starters Boelter, McGuire and Hovey, but Meyers, sophomores Katie Noonan, Madison and Mckenzie Meister remain. Next year’s team will not have seniors.
“My advice is to stay focused, stay believing in the fact that you can still get here,” McGuire said. “I know that you’ll lose three seniors that are starters, but still you can step up and fill our shoes.”