Des Moines, IA- The Winfield-Mt. Union girls enjoyed quite the season; unfortunately, it came to an end last night at the Wells Fargo Arena in the quarterfinals to North Linn. After a close first quarter, the Lynx heavily pressured the Wolves and took advantage in transition to move on to play Newell-Fonda in the semifinal winning 68-36.
North Linn was enjoying their 5th straight trip to the state tournament, while Winfield-Mt. Union was making their first trip back since their 2nd place finish in 1998 when now Head Coach Mendy McCreight was a player for the team. The first quarter could be characterized by both teams trying to settle their nerves. Turnovers and missed shots kept the game close at a 14 to 12 advantage for North Linn.
Coach McCreight would mention after the game that the Wolves knew they were coming with the press, but it is tough to come up with an answer against a defense that averaged nearly 20 steals per game coming into the contest. The Lynx had 11 steals by the time the first half was over and converted that to 10 fast break points. The Wolves were drubbing the Lynx on the offensive glass, but the shots were simply not falling as Winfield-Mt. Union had just three players scored in the first half (Melina Oepping with 11, Bradie Buffington with 8, and Josie Nelson with 2). North Linn, on the other hand, had 8 players with a least two points, which contributed to their 33 to 21 heading into halftime.
The Lynx would only tighten up defensively, forcing 12 more turnovers in the second half and finishing the game with 20 fast break points. The Wolves only shot 29.5% from the field including 0 for 5 from three-point range. Despite the outcome, Coach McCreight’s pride was beaming after the game for her team,
“They didn’t give up and they played to the end and I got to play my whole bench to make sure that they know they’re just important because if it wasn’t for them each and every day making us better we wouldn’t be where we are today, so I’m so proud of them and couldn’t be prouder.”
The Wolves will be graduating all their starters in Keetyn Townsley, Keely Malone, Buffington, Anna Anderson, and Oepping, a calming force for their team.
“Their leadership that they have on the court and off the court is just amazing,” said Coach McCreight. “They’re a fun group, we’ve had a lot of fun being here and we’re proud to have the chance to make it to state and do what we did.”
Melina Oepping led the way in scoring for the Wolves with 18 points and she collected 10 rebounds for the double-double. Bradie Buffington added 10 points, Keetyn Townsley made four free throws, and Josie Nelson and Madisen Kellogg each had two points. The Wolves finished the season with a 22-2 record and a 16-0 conference record.