Cardinals overcome A-P's early burst
on Monday, March 4, 2019
By Jake Ryder, Eclipse News-Review
DES MOINES – Sophia Jungling knew the Aplington-Parkersburg girls needed a good night's sleep for a Wednesday morning state quarterfinal.
But the way the Falcons started their clash with undefeated Central Decatur opened a lot of eyes.
Ultimately, the more-experienced Cardinals claimed victory on Wednesday morning, but the Falcons put Central Decatur to work, making them earn nearly every point of the 57-49 final score.
Aplington-Parkersburg's season ends at 23-3, tying a school record for wins to go with an NICL East championship and the Falcons' first trip to state since 2013.
"This is once in a lifetime," Jungling said. "For our teammates to say we had a chance to compete at the Well with a great crowd from Aplington-Parkersburg, it's something we're going to remember forever."
The Falcons overwhelmed the Cardinals out of the chute, scoring five 3-point baskets and carrying a 23-11 advantage in the second quarter to bring a massive sea of red to its feet on the A-P side of Wells Fargo Arena. Megan Johnson had 13 of her team-leading 17 points in the first quarter.
"We wanted to come out strong," Johnson said. "We felt comfortable going out there and shooting."
Jenna Bruns scored eight points with four steals and five rebounds in her final A-P game. Avari Everts scored six points with five rebounds. Sophia Jungling scored eight points with two steals and two assists.
Central Decatur, a semifinalist in 1A last year, started the long road back through defensive pressure – the Cardinals hurried the Falcons into miscues to the tune of nine turnovers in a quarter where A-P only made nine field-goal attempts, scoring on two of them.
"We try to play with our hair on fire," A-P head coach Jason Berkey said. "We're not good when we have to slow down and run a halfcourt offense. … But we knew they'd come back and we just didn't want to panic. … They made a few key shots when they needed to and we just didn't get enough stops."
Berkey consistently credited this senior group – Jenna Bruns, Avari Everts and McKenna Oldenburger – as being a continuation of Aplington-Parkersburg's girls athletics' transformation into a program that can hang with the boys in terms of a pedigree on a big stage.
"Their leadership is second to none," Berkey said. "That's the reason we do the things we do here. We've got a good group coming back – this only makes them hungrier."