Trojan senior Jordan Lukes (24) gets her hands on the offensive rebound over Central defenders while teammate Katlyn Baumler is there for back-up during Friday’s regional semifinal in West Union. (Photo by Becky Walz)
Trojan senior Jordan Lukes (24) gets her hands on the offensive rebound over Central defenders while teammate Katlyn Baumler is there for back-up during Friday’s regional semifinal in West Union. (Photo by Becky Walz)

It wasn’t the ending the Turkey Valley girls’ basketball team was looking for as it squared off with No. 13 Central Elkader (21-3) in West Union Friday night. The Warriors ended the Trojans’ state bid after mounting a fourth-quarter come-from-behind win, 53-46.

The Trojans finished the season with a 19-5 record and finished third in the Upper Iowa Conference behind a pair of ranked teams.

Central is one game away from qualifying for the state tournament but first needs to get past No. 7 Saint Ansgar (20-2) Wednesday, Feb. 26, at New Hampton.

“The coaching staff is very appreciative of everything the team gave, and especially grateful of the leadership from our seniors and their commitment and dedication to the program. Jordan (Lukes), Katlyn (Baumler) and Breanna (Busta) are all super girls and we wish all of them the best as they continue on their paths,” said Coach Carla Nymeyer.

From the tip-off to the final buzzer, the UIC squads engaged in a defensive battle unlike no other. The Warriors quickly put up the first five points of the contest before the Trojans gathered momentum, closing out the first period on a 9-0 run to lead 9-5. In the second quarter, TV led by as many as seven before Central’s Danielle Weber knocked down a pair of threes to narrow the margin to 16-12 at halftime.

Having kept Central’s leading scorer, Hannah Erickson, from finding the basket in the first half, the Trojans couldn’t do the same in the third frame, as the senior collected seven of Central’s 14 points in the third quarter, bringing the Warriors to within two, 21-19 with 3:22 remaining in the period. From that point, the two UIC squads went basket-for-basket. It was nothing but net for Kara Reicks’ last-second three point shot to give the Trojans a 29-26 edge with eight minutes remaining.

Central’s Weber hit her third trey of the game just over a minute into the final frame to knot the score once again at 29-all. As time began to speed faster, the Trojans were forced to foul to stop the clock, allowing Central to get the 35-34 lead from the charity stripe at the 2:23 mark and it just kept growing. The Warriors connected on all eight of their charity tosses in the final 1:01 to take the win.

“This was not the ending that we were hoping for, but very proud of the effort our girls put forth tonight and all season. Our girls were really focused and ready to go. Our defense did a super job, we just needed a few more shots to fall on the offensive end,” said Coach Nymeyer. “Our TV fan base once again was spectacular all season. It is so much fun playing in front of them and we thank them for all of their support.”

With 18 points and five steals, junior Jaycie Byrne led the Trojan offense. Providing support with eight points apiece were Ali Hoffert and Kara Reicks. Senior Katlyn Baumler was on the board with two.