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DES MOINES — Before the question was even finished, Lansing-New Albin Kee High School girls basketball coach Lisa Steckel blurted out the word “everything.”

That’s what Newell-Fonda (25-0) junior Olivia Larsen did by scoring 28 points to defeat the Kee Hawks 61-45 in a IGHSAU Class 1A state quarterfinal contest in front of about 2,000 fans at Wells Fargo Arena on Wednesday.

Kee (22-2) couldn’t control the Mustangs’ 5-foot-6 guard, and in result, the Hawks lost their first game since Dec. 21. Larsen made 12 of 19 shots.

“She’s just a strong player, and she couldn’t miss tonight,” Steckel said. “From the film we saw, she drove to the basket a lot. She’s a tough person to guard.”

Kee shot 37 percent, and briefly led in the second quarter, but its jittery beginning is what sealed its fate.

Kee shot 2-for-14 (14.3 percent) in the first quarter. Kee admitted to nerves, despite making the state tournament for the second time in three years.

“Our defense is great, and that’s what gets us to where we are today,” Larsen said.

Kee also struggled through the third quarter and made just 2 of 11 shots (18.2 percent).

“It frustrates them, and they try to overcompensate,” Steckel said. “It’s hard to do, and there are some nights where it just doesn’t happen.”

The Hawks turned it around in the second quarter by making 9 of 11 shots. Makayla Walleser made a jumper that put the Hawks up briefly, but for only 1 minute, 54 seconds.

Kee outscored the Mustangs 22-20 in the second quarter.

Kendra Cooper mug

Cooper

“I think we realized we needed to do something to pick it up,” said Kendra Cooper, who had 12 points and 11 rebounds. “We knew they were eventually going to fall.”

Cooper concluded her senior season with 234 points.

Nicki Wood, who led Kee with 13 points, made a 3-pointer that tied the game early in the second quarter.

Kee finished its season with two losses, but only one of them was against a Class 1A team. The other came at the hands of Class 3A No. 1 Crestwood.

The Kee Hawks won their first outright Upper Iowa Conference title in the five-player era, which began in the 1994-95 season.


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Sports reporter

Zach James covers sports for the La Crosse Tribune.