DES MOINES — At one end of the floor, the ball rolled around the rim and went in. Seconds later at the other end, the ball hit the front of the rim, rolled across the back of it and fell out.
That was the razor-thin difference in a fantastic Class 5A state tournament opener between Indianola and Cedar Falls Monday at Wells Fargo Arena.
The second of two free throws by the Indians’ Maggie McGraw’s circled the rim twice before going in with 11.7 seconds left, and that proved to be the deciding point in a 64-63 win over second-seeded Cedar Falls.
“We knew it was going to be a game of runs,” Cedar Falls sophomore Emerson Green said. “It was back and forth. We all played hard. They made one more play than we did. But I’m proud of how we fought to the end.”
The Tigers (22-2) had a chance for a happier ending, but Kiana Barney’s five-foot jumper at the buzzer did not get the favorable roll.
“It was a great game,” said Kamryn Finley, who will join Barney and Cynthia Wolf next season at Northern Iowa. “We wanted to have a memorable season and that is what we got. Every single person gave 110 percent and it just didn’t come out our way. That happens.”
Cedar Falls couldn’t have asked for a better start as it used a 9-0 run to take an 11-2 lead and led by as much as 25-11 before McGraw hit a 3-pointer at the buzzer to edge the Indians (21-3) closer. The lead was still nine at the half, 38-29, after Green hit a driving layup with 1.7 seconds left.
“We came out strong and I thought we came out with good energy,” Cedar Falls head coach Groen said. “I thought we executed really well, especially at the beginning. But you get in these situations and the other team is not going to give up.”
Indianola turned to its talented duo of Grace Berg and McGraw to climb back into the game in the third period and then win it in the end. Berg and McGraw scored 33 of the Indians’ 35 second-half points and 55 of the team’s 64 total points.
McGraw finished with 28 points and Berg 27 while Green led Cedar Falls with 27 and Finley had 18.
Indianola took its first lead with 1:20 left in the third quarter only to have Finley counter 12 seconds later and the Tigers led after three, 48-47. The lead changed eight times in the fourth quarter.
“They went on a nice little run, got themselves back in the game and it kind of became a back-and-forth game,” Groen said.
Cedar Falls’ last lead came with 15 seconds left when Green scored on a driving layup. But McGraw was fouled driving baseline with 11.7 left, swished the first free throw and got a little luck on the second.
“From my angle it looked like it was going to be off a bit,” Groen said of McGraw’s second free throw. “We got an out-of-bounds play that we’ve worked on a lot. You get that shot at the end and it just doesn’t fall.
“We get a roll and it is a different story. But that is the game of basketball.”
The Indians made all 21 of their free throw attempts, including 16 in the third and fourth quarters.
“One ball rolled in and one ball rolled out,” Indianola head coach Bert Hanson said. “We were very fortunate to win.”
Indianola 64, Cedar Falls 63
INDIANOLA (21-3) — Maggie McGraw 8-15 7-7 28, Madie Sorensen 1-3 4-4 7, Carrington Kuehl 0-0 0-0 0, Liza Lathrum 0-2 2-2 2, Grace Berg 9-17 8-8 27, Kendall Clatt 0-1 0-0 0. Totals 18-38 21-21 64.
CEDAR FALLS (22-2) — Anaya Barney 0-8 0-0 0, Emerson Green 11-19 3-6 27, Kamryn Finley 8-11 0-0 18, Kiana Barney 3-10 2-2 10, Cynthia Wolf 3-9 0-0 6, McKenna Gleason 1-1 0-0 2, Grace Burken 0-0 0-0 0. Totals 26-58 5-8 63.
Indianola 14 15 18 17 — 64
Cedar Falls 25 13 10 15 — 63
3-point goals — Indianola 7-14 (McGraw 5-8, Sorensen 1-2, Lathrum 0-1, Berg 1-2, Clatt 0-1). Cedar Falls 6-20 (A. Barney 0-3, Green 2-5, Finley 2-3, K. Barney 2-3, Wolf 0-6). Rebounds — Indianola 26 (Berg 9). Cedar Falls 29 (Wolf 9). Assists — Indianola 6 (McGraw 2, Berg 2). Cedar Falls 7 (Wolf 4). Turnovers — Indianola 10 (Berg 4). Cedar Falls 4 (A. Barney 2). Total fouls — Indianola 11, Cedar Falls 16.