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CLASS 2A REGIONAL FINAL | DIKE-NEW HARTFORD 75, WEST FORK 21

Warhawks get blitzed by 2A top-ranked Wolverines in regional final

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Too much press defense. Too much length. Too much height. Too much Payton Petersen.

About everything that could go wrong for West Fork's girls basketball team, did. About everything that could put it in a bind and big deficit, did.

The Warhawks, on Wednesday night, were simply outmatched.

Class 2A top-ranked Dike-New Hartford put on a defensive performance with a staggering amount of turnovers and forward Payton Petersen scored a new school-record with 32 points as the defending state champions blew out West Fork 75-21 in the regional final at Hampton-Dumont-CAL High School.

"Can't simulate what the Petersen girl can do," Warhawks head coach Rodney Huber said. "It is nothing against my kids, my kids battled. They're just good and I think they're probably win a state title again."

It marks the fifth straight trip to the state tournament for the Wolverines (22-2), who will be the top seed and face South Central Calhoun in a state quarterfinal matchup on Tuesday at 5:45 p.m.

They will try and defend their state title.

"The nerves are still there before the game and the excitement is still there afterwards," D-NH head coach Bruce Dall said. "They've done such a great job."

Over the three regional games, the Wolverines have allowed eight, 19 and 21 points. West Fork (19-5) didn't hit the 20-point barrier until late in the fourth quarter.

Everything that the Wolverines did, all the Warhawks could do was tip their cap.

"All respect to them, they're a really good team," junior forward Emma Martinek said. "We came in, we tried all we could. Not a lot of teams pressed us, it is a whole different game."

It was a 16-0 run that gave D-NH a 20-4 lead after the opening eight minutes. The game was blown open in the second when Petersen went to work with 18 of her points that frame.

A double or triple team didn't matter. The sophomore still got the ball in the post and either made a layup or would get a rebound then make a putback.

"They're so unselfish and so willing to help other people," Petersen said. "They're willing to take chances that they might not now if they have a turnover or not. The bond we created from last year and this year has continued to grow."

Once the halftime buzzer hit, the Wolverines were up by 39 points. They forced a running clock for a third regional final during the five straight years of clinching a tournament berth.

"We're an inside-out team," Dall said. "We did a fabulous job of shot selection."

The 2-1-2 full court press defense forced a pair of West Fork 10-second violations and a plethora of steals. D-NH went on a 24-2 outburst to close the first half.

"I was disappointed that gave us so many problems," Huber said. "I thought the motion of the game kind of got to us a little bit. We did break it and had opportunities, it is just we didn't capitalize."

The Wolverines scored the first 10 points of the third quarter and pulled its starters for most of the fourth quarter. It was a full on clinic. Camille Landphair chipped in 13 points and Jadyn Petersen recorded 12.

"We have a complete team," Dall said. "They know what it takes."

West Fork's Leah Weaver led its offense with seven points. The Warhawks graduate three seniors in Ellie Weaver, Maddie Hubka and Madisyn Bonner.

They return a solid nucleus of pieces, led by Martinek, Rylie Akins and Leah Weaver.

"This one just ended, but you have all these things to look forward to," Martinek said. "We'll keep growing and keep getting better next year."

Meanwhile, D-NH is making another trip to Wells Fargo Arena. It has had a target on its back all season long as the one being chased, not the chaser.

It has thrived in that role.

"We love playing against big crowds," Petersen said. "Just keep being aggressive."  

Zach Martin is a sports reporter for the Globe Gazette. Reach him via email at zachary.martin@globegazette.com and follow him on Twitter @zach_martin95.

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