(Des Moines) The Harlan girls are headed back to the state championship game for the 2nd time in the last 2 years. It hasn't been easy, but the Cyclones have downed North Scott and Carlisle in consecutive games to earn another shot at a title.
45-42 was the final in the semi-final win over Carlisle. Harlan rarely trailed in the game, in fact they led the entire second half. Carlisle though would trim Harlan's six point fourth quarter lead down to 1 in the final minutes, but never came up with the big shot to take the lead. It was on three seperate ocassions that Harlan's advantage was cut to a single point, but Carlisle's only lead in the entire game came at 27-25 with over three minutes to go in the first half.
Up by three in the final minute, Harlan fouled Carlisle on a three point attempt. The Cyclones had been attempting to foul Carlisle on the floor, but it was ruled in the act of shooting. Kaliegh Haus made two of three free throws to snug the score to 43-42 with 4.6 seconds left. Harlan was fouled immediately on the inbounds pass and Taylor Wagner calmly sank two free throws to extend the lead back to three points. Carlisle's long inbounds pass toward mid-court was knocked away before a desperation heave could be attempted and the Cyclones survived another close one, 45-42.
In addition to the clutch free throws, it was Wagner who got Harlan off to a good start with her three point shooting. She'd hit four three's in the game include three of them in the first quarter as Harlan led by as many at nine at one point and were up 21-13 after the first. Harlan's outside shooting cooled off the rest of the way though and Carlisle fought back within two by halftime.
The second half was like a chess match between the two head coaches, as Carlisle, despite trailing by four, tried to limit the number of possessions in the final five minutes. Harlan, with that four point cushion, was content to let them run as much clock as they wanted. The strategy nearly paid off for Carlisle as they had a handful of possession late where they could have tied or took the lead, but were unable to get closer than one point away.
Click here for the comments from Harlan coach Zach Klaassen
The incredible turnaround story of 6th ranked Carlisle comes to an end with a 21-6 record. That's 20, yes 20, more wins than they compiled a season ago. Head coach Bryan White, formerly the Red Oak boys coach, loses only one senior from the regular rotation.
Click here for the comments from Carlisle coach Bryan White
#1 Harlan improves to 24-0 and returns to the state championship game after losing by one in the final seconds in the title tilt last year. Their opponent this time around will be Western Dubuque. Western Dubuque won a low scoring game against Ballard 30-23 in the semi-finals.
Click for the comments from Harlan junior Taylor Wagner