Plagued by foul trouble throughout the majority of the game, the IKM-Manning girls dealt with the adversity, but in the end came up short in a 69-65 loss to 15th-ranked Panorama in a Class 2A regional semifinal basketball game on Friday night at Panora.
The four-point setback ended IKM-Manning’s season at 17-6 overall under veteran head coach Gene Rasmussen.
Panorama, a 78-57 loser to IKM-Manning back on December 7 at Manning, improved to 20-3 overall and will take on second-rated Britt, West Hancock (23-1) in the Region 3 title game on Wednesday night at Fort Dodge High School.
The second game of the year between the Wolves and Panthers turned into a foul festival, as the two teams combined to shoot 71 free throws with 52 fouls whistled.
Panorama went 31-of-41 at the foul line, including 20-of-24 in the second half, while IKM-Manning was 20-of-30 on charity tosses, sinking 15-of-18 before halftime.
When all said and done, IKM-Manning had one player foul out and six other girls with four fouls.
Panorama, on the other hand, had one girl foul out and three others with four fouls.
Leading by only two points at 16-14 after one quarter, IKM-Manning outscored Panorama 23-12 in the second to take a 39-26 lead into the halftime locker room.
Despite being outscored 12-6 in the third, IKM-Manning still led 45-38 going into the final eight minutes of play, but then the Panthers would post a 31-point fourth quarter and hold the Wolves to 20 en route to the victory.
Lexi Branning led IKM-Manning’s attack, as the senior scored 25 points and ripped down nine rebounds, while battling foul trouble throughout the game in her final appearance for the Wolves.
Nine of Branning’s points came in 14 trips to the free throw line.
Nicole Hanson added 15 points, netting all 15 in the first half on the strength of five, three-point baskets.
Senior Emily Kerkhoff chipped in with eight points, four steals and three boards in her final game for the Wolves.
Ahrenholtz, who sat out with four fouls from the midway point of the third quarter to the middle of the fourth, finished with seven points, four assists, three boards and two steals before fouling out with 1:49 remaining.
Bre Muhlbauer also had six points, five boards, two assists and two steals for IKM-Manning, which outrebounded Panorama by a 31-29 margin.
Panorama’s Payton Beckman and Angel Poldberg each scored 20 points to lead the Panthers, which won their third straight game.
"Obviously, we didn’t play very well in the second half, both offensively and defensively. We just didn’t execute the way we needed to," commented IKM-Manning coach Gene Rasmussen, whose club was 7-of-23 from three-point range and 19-of-54 overall from the field for 35 percent.
Panorama, meanwhile, was 4-of-11 from behind the three-point arc and 17-of-44 overall from the floor for 39 percent.
"We did a nice job of forcing turnovers in the first half and that helped us get the lead. Unfortunately, that didn’t carry over into the second half, but give Panorama credit, they did a better job of taking care of the ball and just made more plays down the stretch than we did," Rasmussen said.
IKM-Manning finished with 14 turnovers, while Panorama had 17 violations in all.
Rasmussen said that not having Ahrenholtz on the floor for the majority of the second half obviously hurt.
"Yeah, without her on the floor, it takes away a lot of continuity, both offensively and defensively, as she handles the ball a lot as our point guard and creates a lot of havoc defensively with her quick hands," Rasmussen said.
"It’s tough to lose and I feel bad for the team and our two seniors, but it just didn’t happen tonight," the Wolves’ boss stated.
Rasmussen talked about his two seniors after the contest.
"Branning did a tremendous job down low for us this year. She came a long ways in the last four years, especially this season in being a dominant player and a great leader for us," Rasmussen said.
"Kerkhoff was our defensive specialist. We always tried to put her the other team’s top offensive player. I thought she really stepped up and embraced that role."
"Just really proud of both of them. Both will be missed and I know they will do great things," Rasmussen said.