By Jeff Linder
DES MOINES — If anyone understands the value of a second chance, it’s the Cascade Cougars.
Cascade feasted on the offensive glass and handled Denver, 49-34, in a Class 2A quarterfinal at the girls’ state basketball tournament Tuesday at Wells Fargo Arena.
“We looked to attack and penetrate the seams,” said Chanda Goedken, who contributed greatly despite being held to two points. “Rebounding was huge. It won the game for us.”
No doubt about that. The Cougars (23-3) grabbed 17 rebounds and enjoyed an 18-4 advantage in second-chance points.
This was supposed to be a rebuilding year for Cascade. Instead, the Cougars are peaking and jelling. The Cougars won their 12th straight game.
“A lot of people didn’t think we belonged here,” said Cascade Coach Mike Sconsa. “People didn’t think much of us. But these kids have worked really hard and are very unselfish.”
Last year’s team, which included all-staters Ashley Arlen and Lana Otting, was bumped in the regional tournament. This team is one of only four still standing in 2A.
“It’s a different atmosphere,” said guard Amber Meyer. “We play better when we’re loose and smiling.”
The Cougars meet No. 6 Hinton in a semifinal at 1:30 Thursday afternoon. Hinton (25-0) ousted Central Decatur, 54-45, Tuesday morning.
Denver (21-4) held the lead once, at 6-4. Cascade scored the final nine points of the first quarter for a 13-6 advantage. Meyer capped the run with a 3-pointer at the horn.
The Cyclones drew within 15-13 late in the second quarter, but the Cougars closed the half with the final seven points — Haylee Hoffman hit a 3-pointer, then Meyer scored the next four points — for a 22-13 halftime lead.
Denver got no closer than eight points in the second half.
“They were just more scrappy than we were,” said Denver Coach Steve Moon. “They got to more loose balls than we did. And the rebounds … that was a killer.”
Goedken finished with 14 rebounds, six on the offensive end, and dished out four assists.
“She fed people the ball and got a lot of rebounds,” Meyer said. “That’s what a leader does.”
Maggie Reiter led the Cougars with 11 points, and grabbed eight boards (Cascade posted a 38-28 rebounding advantage).
Hoffman came off the bench to score 10. Meyer scored nine, Holly Hosch eight, Katherine Molony six.
That’s balance. That’s a team. That’s this year’s team.
Amanda Frost accumulated 14 points and 11 rebounds for Denver. Emily Schweer scored 12 points.