By Jeff Linder
DES MOINES — There was no happy ending to this two-year fairy tale.
Jessica McDowell scored with 14 seconds left, and third-ranked Ackley AGWSR sidestepped two late opportunities by No. 1 Springville and dethroned the Orioles, 28-27, for the Class 1A girls’ basketball state championship last night at Wells Fargo Arena.
The Cougars (26-0) held Springville (26-2) scoreless through the final 4 minutes, 27 seconds.
“I don’t know who invented the phrase, ‘Defense wins championships,’ but that guy was a genius,” said AGWSR Coach Bruce Dall.
The Orioles were the darlings of last year’s tournament and came within a whisker of repeating.
“Most people expect us to be down,” said Springville’s Sarah Davidson. “We have a lot to be proud of. Nobody can take last year away. We just came up a little short tonight.”
McDowell, a UNI recruit who finished with only four points, grabbed an entry pass and scored while being fouled by Callie Kloubec.
“I hadn’t gotten too many shots off. This one was way fun,” McDowell said.
She missed the free throw and Springville’s Carly Martin was fouled while pursuing the loose ball. Martin missed the front end of the bonus with 12 seconds left.
McDowell was fouled again and missed again. Martin had a lane to the basket but missed a contested shot.
McDowell was fouled yet again, with 3.2 seconds left, and missed yet again. Bre Oxley, the hero of Springville’s semifinal win Wednesday, missed a half-court heave at the horn.
Oxley made a 3-pointer at the 4:27 mark to give the Orioles a 27-25 lead. Springville didn’t score again.
Macy Ubben made one of two foul shots to get the Cougars within one point with 1:41 left.
Springville went to a delay game, which was successful until the Cougars stole the ball with a half-minute left.
“We were down a little bit, but we got the big steal,” McDowell said.
Like the Orioles’ semifinal game — an overtime win over North Butler — this was back and forth throughout. AGWSR’s 14-10 lead was the largest margin for either team.
As would be expected, it was a somber Springville locker room afterward.
“There’s not much you can say after this,” said Orioles Coach Brian O’Donnell. “I just told them how proud I am of them. How many kids would love to be in their position?”
The Orioles will be honored at a reception 2 p.m. Sunday in the high school gymnasium,
AGWSR won despite shooting 24 percent (10 of 42) from the floor. Springville was 9 of 33, for 27 percent.
“They had a really good 1-3-1 defense,” said Springville’s Katie Eiben, who led all scorers with 11 points and was named the all-tournament captain for the second straight year.
“What we accomplished this season is just as good as last year. It’s just a little tough right now.”
Davidson, Ubben and McDowell also made the all-tournament team. So did Patrice Peters of George-Little Rock and Elizabeth Schroeder of North Butler.
Megan Pieters had nine points and 10 rebounds for the Cougars.
The teams combined for 2-of-17 shooting in a first quarter that ended with the Orioles in front, 5-3. Springville led 16-14 at halftime.