DES MOINES — Sioux City Heelan’s Megan McCarthy set her feet and rose up with confidence.
So what if the 5-11 post hadn’t attempted a 3-pointer all season?
It is the state tournament, after all, and she drained both tries in Wednesday’s 63-47 Class 4A quarterfinal win over gritty Dubuque Wahlert at Wells Fargo Arena.
McCarthy scored a game-high 21 points for the top-ranked Crusaders (21-3), who face Xavier (15-9) in Thursday’s 8:30 p.m. semifinal.
“I just kind of threw it out there,” said McCarthy, whose first long-range basket gave Heelan the lead for good at 5-2. “I don’t really know where it came from, but it feels good.”
The Golden Eagles (10-14) wouldn’t go away despite trailing the final 28:43 of the game.
They pulled within three, at 38-35, on Taylor Ochs’ layup with 3:44 left in the third quarter, but the Crusaders responded with a 12-2 run.
“They were just on today,” said Ochs, who totaled a game-high 10 rebounds. “We did our best to try to stop them but we jsut came up a little short.”
Ana Schmitt led Wahlert with 12 points and Marissa Cody added 11.
Ochs had a game-high 10 rebounds.
Heelan also beat the Golden Eagles in last year’s quarterfinals, 77-60.
Wahlert returned to state for the second straight season despite losing three starters.
““Thats been our goal all year,” said Golden Eagles leading scorer Logan Lynch, who had seven points Wednesday. “Knowing that we lost to Heelan last year, we definitely had fight in us. I know we had the fight in all of our hearts.”
It was also built in rugged Mississippi Valley Conference play, where Wahlert went 2-11 against talented 5A teams such as Washington.
“We felt like we were battle-tested,” Golden Eagles coach Kris Spiegler said.
As for McCarthy’s beyond-the-arc acumen …
“We thought, ‘We’re going to back off her,’” Spiegler said. “And what does she do? But that’s what players do. Players make the play.”