Newell-Fonda plays for 1A state title

DES MOINES – Newell-Fonda has been down this road before.

Now, the top-ranked Mustangs (24-2 overall) will attempt to bring home an elusive state championship trophy.

In a Class 1A final at Wells Fargo Arena here tonight, Newell-Fonda will battle No. 3 Burlington Notre Dame (23-3).

Tip is set for 6 p.m. Iowa Public Television will broadcast the action.

This year’s trip to Des Moines is the 10th in program history for the Mustangs, who settled for runner-up honors in 1997, 2000, 2008 and 2013. Twin Lakes Conference champion Newell-Fonda is coming off lopsided state victories over Bedford (73-37) and fourth-ranked Colo-Nesco (65-34).

Against the Royals Wednesday night, Northwestern College signee Claudia Larsen sparked the Mustangs with 20 points, a 1A tournament record 20 rebounds, five blocks, three assists and a steal. All-state point guard Renee Maneman and junior Brianna Wells each netted 10 points.

Maneman, who will join Larsen at Northwestern College next season, added five boards and four assists.

Notre Dame, which had never previously qualified for state until last year, advanced with tournament wins against No. 8 Adair-Casey (90-50) and second-ranked Janesville (65-58). The Nikes, who overcame an 11-point second half deficit in the semifinals, are averaging a state-high 81.3 points a night.

Junior guard Taylor Hickey of Notre Dame has scored a 1A-best 45 points on 15-for-36 shooting here this week. Larsen and Colo-Nesco’s Caitlyn Riese are tied for second with 36 points.

Through two state contests, Notre Dame paces the 1A field in field goal percentage (45.9) and steals per game (15.9).

As a team, Newell-Fonda ranks first in 1A in total assists (41) and total blocks (10), while holding its first two opponents to just a combined 26.3 percent clip from the field.

Maneman is the 1A tournament leader in assists (17) and steals (8). Larsen is also No. 1 in blocks (9) and No. 2 in rebounds (23).

The Southeast Iowa Super Conference South Division champion Nikes suffered their three setbacks this season at 4A foes Fairfield (52-45) and Keokuk (70-64) and fourth-ranked 3A state semifinalist Mediapolis (89-61).