(Des Moines) Jess Schaben led Harlan with 24 points, 9 rebounds, and 2 blocked shots as #1 Harlan capped off an undefeated season with a four point win over #8 Western Dubuque in the Class 4A title tilt. It's the Cyclones first girls basketball state championship in school history.
After an extremely close and competetive first half, Harlan stretched a three point halftime lead up to as many as 13 in the second half. Harlan's defense allowed only four points in the third which helped them appear to take control of the game. The double-digit edge would be shortlived though as right when Harlan looked like they were going to turn a close game into a rout, Western Dubuque stormed back with a 17-4 run to tie the game at 50 with 1:22 to play. Harlan needed just ten seconds of game clock to respond. They called a timeout and set up a play for Elle Kloewer to lob a long inbounds pass into Jess Schaben who finished from the right block. Schaben shot 10-11 from the field in the win. In addition to Schaben's big late basket, Ellie Kloewer went 2-2 and Taylor Wagner hit 1-2 from the free throw line in the final minute. Meanwhile Western Dubuque had three offensive rebounds in the last :45 to give them some chances, but they went 0-2 from three-point range and just 1-3 on free throws in that span. Wagner's free-throw with 12 seconds left pushed the lead up to four to seal it.
After losing a heartbreaker in the championship game a year ago and returning the bulk of their key team members, Harlan was widely considered a title contender heading into the year. A dominant regular season brought even more people on board with the concept of Harlan being a team to beat. The series of lopsided wins would come to an end at the state tournament though as Sophmore Jordyn Moser delivered a game winning shot in the first round against, the Cyclones survived a great challenge from up and comer Carlisle in the semi-finals, and hung on to beat a scrappy Western Dubuque team Saturday night.
Jess Schaben was named captain of the All-Tournament Team. She averaged 16 points, 9.3 rebounds, and 4.3 blocks per game. Taylor Wagner was also selected to the All-Tourney squad. It's the second straight all-tournament team nod for each of those players. A welcome home ceremony will be held Sunday at 1:00 in the High School gym.
Click here for the postgame with Harlan junior Taylor Wagner
Click here for the postgame with Harlan junior Jess Schaben
Click here for the postgame with Harlan coach Zach Klaassen