STATE CENTER - A handful of North Tama football players walked into the West Marshall gymnasium with 2 minutes already gone off the clock from Tuesday's Class 2A Region 3 quarterfinal girls' basketball game.
Save your money, boys. This one's over.
Eighth-ranked West Marshall scored the first 22 points of the game and eventually invoked the running clock mercy rule in the second half of its 68-23 rout of North Tama, advancing to face No. 9 Hudson (20-2) on Friday night in Conrad.
After waiting 10 days between their regular season finale and their regional opener, the Trojans (19-3) tallied their 12th consecutive win behind a blitz that would have made North Tama football's defensive coordinator Tom McDermott proud - if not for the fact he was in the stands cheering on the Redhawks.
West Marshall's full-court and three-quarter court press took the Redhawks out of their comfort zone from the opening tip, converting turnovers into piles of points.
North Tama (10-12) managed just three field-goal attempts in the first 4 minutes of this contest, finally scoring on Anna Kvidera's jumper to make it 22-2 with 2:22 left to play in the opening period.
NORTH TAMA (10-12) - Aryn Isenhower 1 0-0 2, Abi Watson 1 0-2 2, Josie Youel 3 1-2 7, Allison Zobel 3 0-0 7, Sam Zobel 0 0-0 0, Shayla Kopriva 0 0-0 0, Shannon Stuart 0 0-0 0, Emma Knoop 1 0-0 2, Anna Kvidera 1 1-2 3. TOTALS 10 2-6 23.
WEST MARSHALL (19-3) - Rachel Freland 5 4-5 16, McKenna Hotopp 4 3-4 11, Whitney Benson 5 0-0 10, Sydney Beals 3 0-0 6, Jennifer Davis 5 4-6 14, Shelby Larsen 0 0-0 0, Kailyn Brewer-Reece 0 0-0 0, Maggie Sodders 0 0-0 0, Tori Pothast 2 1-2 5, Madisen Streeter 0 0-0 0, Gabby Reyerson 3 0-1 6, Addie Wilkinson 0 0-0 0. TOTALS 27 12-18 68.
3-Point Goals-NT 1 (A.Zobel); WM 2 (Freland 2). Total Fouls-NT 15, WM 11. Fouled Out-none.
The Trojans took a 26-4 lead into the second quarter, led 47-12 at the half and coasted from there.
Four players scored in double figures for West Marshall. Rachel Freland had 16 points, seven assists and six steals, Jenn Davis had 14 points and eight rebounds, McKenna Hotopp totaled 11 points, four assists and three steals, and Whitney Benson tallied 10 points, seven rebounds and four assists.
"We didn't come into this game thinking it was going to be so one-sided," said West Marshall coach Fred Zeller. "North Tama looked really good in the second half of their (first-round) game against Iowa Valley. But we took them out of it right away with our press.
"The girls were antsy to play, we've been practicing for quite a while and we didn't think about anything except for this game. Our press was just more than they could handle."
North Tama first-year head coach Phil Moss shuddered to think how many turnovers his team finished with, likening West Marshall's pressure to that of two other NICL West teams: Gladbrook-Reinbeck and Grundy Center.
"We knew we had to handle their pressure, so it was just a matter of executing," Moss said. "The gameplan was pretty simple."
By the time the final horn sounded, the Redhawks were held to two points more than their season-low single-game output. Josie Youel and Allison Zobel scored seven points apiece to lead North Tama.
In Saturday's 2A opener at Iowa Valey, Zobel became North Tama's third member of the 1,000-point club in the 5-on-5 era. The school's all-time leading 3-point shooter knocked down a trey in the second quarter, and she got one last look after Moss called a timeout with 3.1 seconds left in the contest.
With three other graduating seniors on the court, Zobel's final attempt missed its mark as time expired and the Redhawks' season-best three-game winning streak was done.
"If West Marshall goes out and shoots 60 percent like they did tonight, they're going to be tough to beat any night," said Moss. "They are one of the most fundamentally sound teams out of anybody we've played."
Freland buried back-to-back 3-pointers to make it 34-7 early in the second quarter, and Davis scored nine of her 14 in the period.
Even with the running clock in the second half, the Trojans still managed to score at least 57 points for the 12th game in a row.
Next up for West Marshall is NICL East co-champion Hudson, which defeated Denver 47-28 in their Tuesday night quarterfinal. The Pirates' only two losses this season came against Dike-New Hartford.