WAPELLO, Iowa − Despite being a little rusty after not competing in over a week and appearing somewhat befuddled by Columbus Community's recently installed 1-3-1 zone, the Wapello girls basketball team found a way.
Eryka Dickey scored a game-high 15 points, Tiffany Parsons added eight, and the Arrows (13-9) overcame a 9-4 first-quarter deficit to knock off the Wildcats (2-19), 49-38, in a Class 2A Region 5 first-round matchup Saturday night.
But contrary to what the records and previous two meetings between these teams may have predicted, Wapello had to sweat out Saturday's contest until the end.
"(Columbus) did a really good job at dictating pace, and we like to play a little faster. We just couldn't get that speed going tonight," said Wapello coach Brandon Brown, whose club had beaten the Wildcats 47-27 and 46-22 in their previous two matches.
The Wildcats struck first on a two-point jumper from senior Jenessa Carpenter and didn't trail until 5 minutes, 20 seconds remaining in the second quarter.
Even when Wapello appeared to start pulling away, generating a 7-1 run to go ahead 13-10, Columbus stuck within striking distance and trailed by just four at halftime.
"We put in a brand new 1-3-1 just for this game, so to do something different like that and them not fall apart, I thought they did a great job executing there," Columbus coach Tyler Hotz said.
Offensively, the Wildcats didn't look anything like the team that entered the game averaging 28.2 points per contest.
They moved the ball around, limited turnovers and had a fair amount of success breaking the Arrows' press.
Courtney Zaehringer poured in a team-high 11 points, while Anna Hamilton and Angie Byas each chipped in eight.
When the Arrows hinted at putting the game out of reach in the fourth quarter, going ahead by as many as 10 points, the Wildcats answered with four 3-pointers in less than three minutes.
"(The Wildcats) broke our press nicely, they got it to the corner and they hit a few 3s on us out there," Brown said. "It had me a little nervous over there trying to stop that because that's not something we've seen from them. They made a huge improvement, and they came out to play."
A few steals in the final minutes, leading to open layups in transition, ultimately allowed Wapello to pull away in the end.
Parsons finished with eight steals and 11 rebounds. Dickey corralled eight boards and stole it four times. As a team, Wapello recorded 33 rebounds and 19 steals.
Brown knows, though, that the Arrows will need to be sharper out of the gate against Iowa City Regina (18-4) in Tuesday's quarterfinal.
"We're going to have to show up," Brown said. "We didn't show up at times in the first half (Saturday). On Tuesday, if we're going to give ourselves a chance, we're going to have to show up and play four tough quarters. We'd like to make it a dog fight and see what happens."