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MINNEAPOLIS — The Aquinas High School girls basketball team used a big second-half comeback Saturday to defeat West Des Moines Dowling Catholic 61-59 at the Twin Cities Thanksgiving Tip-Off tournament.

Lexi Donarski mug

Donarski

The Blugolds trailed by 10 points in the second half, but Iowa State University recruit Lexi Donarski hit a 3-pointer in the final minute from the right wing to turn a one-point deficit into a two-point lead.

The junior also hit two late free throws as Aquinas (3-0) won its 47th consecutive regular-season game and beat Dowling Catholic for the second straight year.

“They dug in,” Aquinas coach Dave Donarski said of his players. “That unselfishness and chemistry is fun and impressive and fun to be around.”

Donarski, who helped Aquinas win a WIAA Division 4 state championship last season, led the Blugolds with 28 points and seven assists.

Kayla Bahr mug

Bahr

Junior Courtney Becker, a Drake recruit, scored 12 points, and junior Kayla Bahr made three 3s en route to an 11-point game. Coach Donarski credited Bahr as being the unsung hero of the win.

“She’s made the most of every opportunity,” Donarski said. “We have a kid who can get shots from 3 and get mid-range looks.”

The Maroons are ranked ninth by the Iowa High School Girls Athletic Union in Class 5A, the largest of the Iowa high school classes. Dowling is led by Caitlin Clark, a junior who is on the 2019 Naismith High School Girls Watch list.

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Aquinas held Clark to 15 points.

“We made every touch difficult,” Donarski said of his team’s defensive approach. “We did a really good job on her.”

It wasn’t just one player who defended Clark, either. Donarski, senior Megan Scheidt and freshman Alaina Bagniefski shared the defensive responsibilities on the Maroons guard.

The Maroons also received 14 points from sophomore Ella McVey and 12 from freshman Emma Gipple.

Aquinas junior Taylor Theusch, who made five 3-pointers in a 67-45 win over DeLaSalle on Friday, was guarded closely by Dowling Catholic and made one 3-pointer while scoring five points.


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Assistant Sports Editor

Todd Sommerfeldt has covered sports for the La Crosse Tribune since 2003 after doing the same previously in the Fox Cities and Rock County.