By: John Naughton, firstname.lastname@example.org
Indianola’s Grace Berg had instant inspiration Wednesday at the state girls’ basketball tournament.
Berg looped a pink ribbon in one of her shoelaces before her game to remember her grandmother. Then she scored a Class 5A-record 36 points in a 77-67 win over Johnston in a quarterfinal at Wells Fargo Arena.
The junior forward was an infant when her grandmother, Marilyn Berg, died in 2001 of breast cancer.
Berg, who keeps a photo of her grandmother in a hutch at the family’s home, knew that Marilyn would have celebrated the win.
“My parents told me she wouldn’t have missed ever a game,” Berg said.
Her grandmother would have been proud. Berg broke the 5A scoring record of 31 points set by Iowa City West’s Ally Disterhoft in 2013 and equaled by Iowa City High’s Kiera Washpun a year later.
Top-ranked Indianola (24-0) jumped to an 8-0 lead to win its first state tournament game since 1992. Maggie McGraw poured in 22 points. The Indians hit 28 of their 55 field-goal attempts and 15 of their 16 free throws.
Johnston, which was ranked No. 8, ended the season at 19-5. Taryn Knuth scored 23 points and had 13 rebounds. Jennah Johnson scored 17 and Maya McDermott had 10.
Knuth, a Des Moines Register All-Iowa athlete who will play volleyball at Florida State, finished her career with three state tournament appearances. She helped the Dragons take second place last year.
“It was really special,” Knuth said. “I’m glad that I got to come here three times.”