North Polk found a way.

While they struggled offensively for much of the time, the Comets continued to play sound defense and when the time came, they converted their free throws. As a result, North Polk is headed back to the Class 3A championship of the 2020 Iowa Girls High School Basketball Tournament after upsetting top-seeded Dike-New Hartford 46-44 in a tense semifinal contest.

North Polk's Maggie Phipps drilled a 3-pointer from the right wing midway through the fourth quarter to erase Dike-New Hartford's only lead and the Comets sank nine of 10 free throws in the final 2:22 to stay in front. Phipps, a junior who has committed to Drake, missed her first five shots and failed to score in the first half. But she finished with 15 points, including three critical 3-pointers. Jaedon Murphy led the fifth-seeded Comets with 15 points and eight rebounds and sophomore Lucy Schaffer scored 12, including a pair of free throws that made it a two-possession game with 5.2 seconds remaining.

North Polk survived 18 turnovers by holding Dike-New Hartford to 36 percent shooting and outrebounding the Wolverines 32-23. The Comets, who beat fourth-seeded Red Oak in the quarterfinals, will take a 21-5 record into the championship game at 8 PM Friday. The Comets lost to Center Point-Urbana in last year's title game, their only previous appearance in the state finals.

Ellie Foster led Dike-New Hartford with 12 points. She also grabbed five rebounds, handed out four assists and made five steals. Morgan Weber and Katie Knock each scored eight for the Wolverines, who finish 23-2, and Sophia Hoffman scored seven.

North Polk built an early eight-point lead, then had to fend off the Wolverines the rest of the way. Dike-New Hartford finally pulled ahead at 38-36 on Hoffman's basket inside with 4:42 left. But the lead lasted only 23 seconds. Phipps answered with her go-ahead 3-pointer and the Comets made the plays they needed at both ends to win it.

Story By: Chuck Schoffner - Iowa Girls High School Athletic Union

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