Nick Phillips of Regina drives to the basket in the semifinal Class 2-A state tournament matchup with Pella Christian Thursday, March 12, 2015.
DES MOINES – Regina had to wait 36 years for another shot at a state basketball title.
The Regals’ opponent in Friday night’s Class 2A championship game has waited even longer for a shot at state gold.
Regina (22-4) will go for its first state title since winning the 1A crown in 1979 when it faces ninth-ranked Treynor (23-3) at 8:05 p.m. Friday at Wells Fargo Arena.
Treynor snapped a 43-year title game drought with a semifinal win over No. 3 Aplington-Parkersburg in overtime Thursday and is making its first state title game appearance since a runner-up finish in 1972.
One team will claim a long-overdue championship on Friday.
“We respect every opponent, we watched Treynor take it to a very fine Aplington-Parkersburg team today,” Regina coach Stu Ordman said. “We watched them never quit and come back in overtime. Our kids love to compete and we’re excited to have another game. It will be a challenge.”
Regina and Treynor took much different paths to Friday’s 2A title game.
Treynor has averaged 71.5 points in state tournament wins over No. 7 Forest City and third-ranked Aplington-Parkersburg.
Regina has done it with defense, holding each of its two state tournament opponents to season-low scoring outputs.
The Regals went seven straight quarters of state tournament play without allowing an opponent to score in double figures until Pella Christian had 17 in the final quarter on Thursday.
“As we’ve gone through the tournament we have really picked up our defense,” Regina junior guard Ethan Suchomel said. “That’s what has been the difference.”
The two contrasting styles clash on Friday night as both teams try to end long stretches without titles.
Treynor has never won a state title in 14 trips, finishing third last year.
Head coach Scott Rucker would like to avoid another close call this season.
“In order to beat us you are going to have to cut our hearts out,” Rucker said after Thursday’s 74-70 come-from-behind semifinal win. “And we’ve got pretty big hearts.”
For Regina the key will be controlling a balanced Treynor offense that enters Friday’s championship game averaging better than 65 points per game.
All five Treynor starters scored in double figures in Thursday’s semifinal win led by Trey Robinson with 16.
“Treynor is very quick, they are good off the bounce, they are a very unselfish team and they are relentless,” Ordman said. “They had a tremendous, tremendous performance today.”
The 6-foot-5 Robinson and 6-foot-6 Jacob Flathers have both notched double-doubles in each of the Cardinals’ two state tournament games.
Robinson and Flathers averaged a combined 24.5 points and 15.6 points per game during the regular season but have been at their best in two state tournament games.
The duo is averaging a combined 28.5 points and 24 rebounds per game helping the Cardinals to a plus-30 rebounding margin in state tournament play.
“I think keys for us are rebounding, controlling the boards and for the past three or four weeks we have just been trying to fly around defensively and make plays,” Rucker said. “Obviously offensively we have to have some post urgency and pound it inside.”
Regina has its own double-double machine in the post in senior Drew Cook.
Cook has had double-doubles in the first two state tournament games of his career and is averaging 16 points and 13 rebounds per game.
“I haven’t been in this situation yet so I’m just going to take tomorrow as a new day,” Cook said. “I’m going to enjoy it but I’m going to be ready and I know my teammates will be too.”
Reach Ryan Murken at 319-339-7369 or firstname.lastname@example.org and follow him on Twitter at @rmmurken.
Class 2A Championship Game
Regina (22-4) vs. No. 9 Treynor (23-3)
• When: Friday, 8:05 p.m.
• Where: Wells Fargo Arena, Des Moines
• Stat leaders: Regina – Drew Cook 22 ppg., 8.7 rpg.; Nathan Stenger 14.8 ppg., 4.8 rpg.; Phil Arendt 8.2 ppg., 4.2 rpg.; Treynor – Nolan Chapman 15.9 ppg., 1.8 spg.; Trey Robinson 11.7 ppg., 8.6 rpg.; Jacob Flathers 13.1 ppg., 7.6 rpg.
• About the Cardinals: Treynor returned to the state title game for the first time since 1972 with an overtime win against third-ranked Aplington-Parkersburg, its second win over a top-seven team at the state tournament. The Cardinals have won six straight and 15 of 16 with two of their three losses coming to IKM-Manning who finished sixth in the 2A rankings.
• About the Regals: Regina has played its best basketball of the season over the last few weeks under first-year coach Stu Ordman and it has all started on the defensive end. The Regals have held each of their first two state tournament opponents to season low point totals and have allowed double digit points in just one of eight quarters at the state tournament. Regina is making its first title game appearance since 1979 when the Regals won the second of back-to-back 1A championships.
• What to watch: Regina has a chance to become the eighth school in state history to claim a basketball title and a football title in the same school year. Regina won its fifth straight Class 1A state football title in November and will go for its first state basketball title since winning the 1A crown in 1979.