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'Jazz'-ed up Warriors headed to state

The Washington Warriors got all “Jazz-ed” up on Tuesday night. As in senior forward Jazz Royster.

Royster responded to a second-quarter tongue-lashing from Coach Frank Howell and spearheaded her team to a 70-51 regional final victory over No. 7 Pleasant Valley at Prairie High School.

The sixth-ranked Warriors (19-3) will face No.3 Iowa City West (21-2) next Wednesday at 10 a.m. in the first round of the girls state tournament at Wells Fargo Arena in Des Moines.

It will be Howell’s fifth trip to Des Moines in eight years at the helm of the Warriors. He also made two appearances as head coach at Audubon High School.

Royster said she took Howell’s comments in stride.

“I kind of like it when I get yelled at because it makes me work harder,” she said. “I have never been to state before. It feels great.”

With his team leading by eight points, Howell removed Royster from the game early in the second quarter. He angrily scolded the junior for several seconds and then sent her back in the game.

Royster immediately responded with a three-point play, then banked in a 3-pointer from the top of the key, followed by a offensive rebound and a put-back. In a span of just three minutes, Royster had ignited the Warriors with eight key points, giving her team a 20-point lead (37-17).

Washington led 39-17 at halftime and Pleasant Valley (18-4) never threatened again.

Leading scorer and rebounder Tia Dawson played sparingly in the first half for Washington due to foul problems, making Royster’s heroics even more important.

“That was a big deal for us,” Howell said of Royster’s second-quarter binge. “Especially because Tia (Dawson) had two fouls. Jazz played really big for us.”

Royster scored a team-high 15 points on 6-for-11 shooting and had seven rebounds. She said that Howell was upset because she was trying to dribble too much.

“He said to quit rushing and trying to dribble around five people,” Royster said. “That was the maddest he has ever been at me.”

Howell agreed.

“That was the maddest I have ever expressed my anger towards Jazz,” Howell said. “She responded very well and brought a lot of energy. I was kind of hoping that would happen.”

The happy Warriors spent some time celebrating after the game and posed for team pictures.

Howell praised assistant coach Jason Edwards, saying, “Five out of seven state tournaments with this guy. It is even sweeter after a couple years away from it. We are anxious to get back.”

Washington last played in a state tournament in 2008.

Howell also praised three seniors who have been starting for three years.

“It is a really nice thing for these seniors,” Howell said. “Three of them have been starting as sophomores. Now they get to experience the same thing kids before them did.”

He was referring to Dawson, Alissa Oney and Ashley Piper.

Dawson was whistled for a first-quarter moving screen and an over-the-back foul in a span of 90 seconds. She sat for most of the first half and scored only eight points in the game. She did have a team-high 10 rebounds and is now only nine rebounds shy of the school career rebounding record. She also has 967 career points.

“It feels really good,” Dawson said about returning to Des Moines.

“We have been working really hard for this and we are excited to go back,” said Piper, who scored eight points. “Our plan was to play our hardest tonight and try and get it done.”

Oney said intensity was the key to the game.

“We know we have to come every game with a lot of energy and high intensity,” she said. “It feels amazing to be going back (to state). We really wanted to get it done this year. I think we have a strong senior group. We have been working for this for so long.”

Washington held Pleasant Valley’s leading scorer, Stacy Clark, to just one first-half point. She finished with 11 points, four below her average.

“It was a team effort there,” Howell said. “We tried to have at least three people in the lane.”

The Warriors now face a talented Iowa City West (21-2) team that defeated Washington, 65-50, in Iowa City on Jan. 4.

“We have a lot of work ahead of us to try and get ready for them,” Howell said. “They are tough to match up against because they have so many people who can run the floor and five people who can make 3-pointers.”

Howell said he was not thinking about being on the same side of the state tournament bracket as No.2 Linn-Mar. “I am not thinking that far ahead,” he said.

Payton Strawser led all scorers with 20 points, including a trio of 3-pointers for Pleasant Valley.

PLEASANT VALLEY (51) Payton Strawser 7 3-4 20, Lindsey Jipp 2 2-2 7, Kayla Lindstrom 0 2-2 2, Ashley Jipp 0 0-0 0, Katelyn Bell 0 1-2 1, Sydney Dwyer 0 1-2 1, Stacy Clark 4 3-8 11, Chloe Miller 1 2-3 4, Kailey Bueker 1 1-2 3, Anna Doyle 0 2-2 2. Totals 15 17-27 51.

WASHINGTON (70) Jazz Royster 6 1-3 15, Tia Dawson 2 3-6 8, Jordon Pilcher 1 2-3 4, Alissa Oney 5 0-1 11, Ashley Piper 3 1-2 8, Janay Pritchett 3 0-1 7, Madison Kramer 0 0-2 0, Tasha Roundtree 1 3-4 5, Layloni Beard 2 0-0 4, Gail Barnum 0 0-0 0, Jordan Carr 1 1-1 3, Kelli Klaus 0 0-0 0, Chelsey McMahon 0 0-0 0, Abby Herb 1 2-4 4, Brooke Foreman 0 1-2 1. Totals 25 14-29 70.

Halftime -- Washington 39, Pleasant Valley 21. 3-point goals -- Pleasant Valley 4 (Strawser 3, L. Jipp); Washington 6 (Royster 2, Piper, Oney, Dawson, Pritchett).

Last Updated ( Wednesday, 23 February 2011 00:23 )  

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