Western Moves on to Semifinals

western logoFreshman Ashtyn Veerbeek helped Western Christian stay in the hunt for a fourth consecutive state championship.

Veerbeek came off the bench to score 17 points and grab 10 rebounds as the second-ranked Wolfpack held off No. 12 Iowa City Regina 50-45 to complete first-round action in Class 2A Tuesday morning. Western advances to Thursday’s semifinal round where they will meet #3 North Linn who downed Des Moines Christian 57-46 in the late quarterfinal Monday night.

Payton Harmsen added 12 points for Western Christian now 22-3. Jamie Gesink scored 11 and pulled down nine rebounds.

Veerbeek, made 6 of 9 shots and had four blocks, including two key ones late in the game.

With Western leading 45-42, Veerbeek blocked Hannah Stein’s shot and Gesink, the all-tournament captain last year, sank a free throw to make it a two-possession game.

A minute later, Veerbeek went to the free throw line with her team again ahead by three and sank both shots for the game’s final points with 11.3 seconds remaining.

Hannah Stein Regina’s only senior finished with 12 points and seven rebounds to lead the Regals who finish at 21-4. Sophomore Sarah Lehman had 11 points and seven rebounds and junior Kennedy Brown scored 10.

Western Christian built an 18-10 lead in the first quarter, then found itself fighting off Regina the rest of the way. At the half it was 29-22 in favor of the Wolfpack with Iowa City Regina closing to within 34-31 at the end of the third quarter. The Regals twice got to within a point down the stretch, but never could get the lead.

Both teams were cold from the field in the contest with both shooting 32% from the field overall. The game was won at the free throw line with Western shooting 72 percent including 10-of15 in the fourth quarter. Iowa City Regina shot 60 percent from the line.

Western Christian going after their fourth consecutive State 2A Title will play No. 3 North Linn in the semifinals at 1:30 p.m. Thursday.  The game will be the second half of our broadcast double header. Our first game will have top ranked Unity Christian squaring off against # 6 South Central Calhoun. Pregame begins at 11:30 for a noon tip off in the upper bracket semi final. We’ll follow that with the Western North Linn match up in the lower bracket semi. We’ll stream the action as well at www.kiwaradio.com.

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