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Pocahontas upends No. 12 North Union in regional semifinal

FAST-BREAK OPPORTUNITY — North Union guard Libby Stevens swipes the basketball and dribbles upcourt for a fast-break chance against Pocahontas Area guard Alayna Kakacek (15) during their Iowa Class 2A, Region 5 semifinal game on Friday night in Armstrong. North Union’s Ainsley Ulrich (11), along with Pocahontas Area’s Jenna Vonnahme (14) and Kristin Axman trail the play. (Photo by Greg Abel)

ARMSTRONG — Pocahontas Area post player Jenna Vonnahme’s game-best double-double performance powered the Indians to a 58-40 upset of the Iowa Class 2A, No. 12-ranked North Union Warriors during Region 5 semifinal basketball action Friday night.

Pocahontas Area (14-8) advances to face No. 4-ranked Sioux Central (21-1) for the regional championship and a state tournament bid at 7 p.m. Wednesday in Spencer.

Sioux Central gained the regional finals by disposing of Manson-Northwest Webster, 61-36.

North Union ended its season with a 17-6 record.

“Jenna (Vonnahme) is the only player in our conference (Twin Lakes) that averages a double-double every time out,” Indians coach Robert Maske said in reference to his 5-foot-11 senior center’s 11.8-point and 10.9-rebound clips. “We really have an unselfish team and our guards found the inside open and fed the middle and she carried us by scoring our first 12 points of the game.”

Vonnahme, who produced a rare 21-point, 20-rebound outing, utilized her leaning half-hook shots with cross-over footwork in the low blocks to stake the Indians to an early 8-2 lead.

Libby Stevens’ steal-turned-two free throws and Ainsley Ulrich’s traditional 3-point play off a Shallie Walders’ steal inched the Warriors within 8-7 with 3:31 left in the first period.

Naomi Jones, who closed out her stellar prep basketball career with team-bests of 14 points and five rebounds, tossed home a runner in traffic to stake North Union to its first and next-to-last lead of the regional clash at the 3-minute juncture.

Vonnahme countered with back-to-back putbacks before Ulrich answered with consecutive path-clearing drives to retake a 13-12 lead for the Warriors.

“Once North Union started doubling down on Jenna in the post, our girls found other options to trigger our (12-0) run that bridged the first and second quarters,” Maske said.

Delaney Janssen spotted Madison Vial for the first of her team-best three 3-pointers to trigger Pocahontas’ double-figure scoring surge that broke the game open to 24-13.

Vonnahme tip-toed the end line to save a short shot and flipped to Halee Hauswirth for the low-post lay-in just before the first-quarter horn for a 17-13 edge for the Indians.

Vonnahme sank two free throws, Vial drained another trey and Alayna Kakacek floated home a 12-footer out of a three-player weave to account for the 11-point lead over the Warriors.

Stevens knocked down one of her team-best three trifectas before Jones cashed in a baseline assist from Walders to narrow the Warriors’ gap to 24-18.

Hauswirth and Janssen hit a pair of 3s to bookend Stevens’ trifectas for the Warriors, while Vial tossed an intended lob to Vonnahme that grazed the rim and rolled hom for a 34-21 halftime lead.

Natalie Point’s only 3-pointer of the game then served as the Indians’ catalyst behind a 10-0 run to begin the third quarter.

Vonnahme sank two free throws, Vial snapped the Armstrong nets on a 3-ball before Amanda Davis fed Vonnahme for a low-post turnaround en route to a 44-23 lead.

Jones reeled off nine consecutive points for North Union to bridge the third and fourth quarters to whittle Pocahontas’ lead to 14.

Stevens and Ulrich, who each generated 13 points, nailed a 3-pointer and 12-foot pull-up jumper in the lane to narrow the Warriors’ gap to 12 with 1:54 remaining.

Kakacek tossed in two free throws and Amanda Davis swooshed her second 3 of the game to close out the Indians’ winning ways.

Ulrich topped the Warriors’ defense by recording four steals.

Vial finished with 12 points and a game-high three assists for Pocahontas Area, while Vonnahme’s game-best 20 rebounds fueled the Indians’ lopsided 39-12 rebounding advantage.

PO     17-17-12-12–58

NU     13- 8- 8-11–40

N. UNION (40)

Jones 6-14 2-3 14, Steinberger 0-0 0-0 0, Merrill 0-2 0-0 0, Stevens 4-6 2-2 13, Ulrich 6-16 1-1 13, Walders 0-6 0-0 0, Nielsen 0-0 0-0 0, Walstead 0-1 0-0 0. Totals 16-45 5-6 40.

POCAHONTAS (58)

Point 1-4 0-0 3, Kakacek 2-5 2-2 6, Vonnahme 7-14 7-8 21, Vial 4-10 1-2 12, Janssen 2-2 0-0 5, Davis 2-4 0-0 6, Axman 0-1 0-0 0, Hauswirth 2-5 0-0 5, Mefferd 0-1 0-0 0. Totals 20-46 10-12 58.

3-pointers: Pocahontas 8-21 (Vial 3; Davis 2; Point, Janssen and Hauswirth 1 each); North Union 3-12 (Stevens 3). Rebounds: Pocahontas 39 (Vonnahme 20); North Union 12 (Jones 5). Assists: Pocahontas 7 (Vial 3); North Union 4. Steals: North Union 10 (Ulrich 4); Pocahontas 3.

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