Class 5A hoops: Dowling outlasts Waukee in 3OT classic as Clark sets class tournament record

Danny Lawhon
The Des Moines Register

Their state quarterfinal victory at last in hand, the Dowling Catholic girls' basketball team skipped down a Wells Fargo Arena hallway Monday afternoon with enough energy to play three more extra periods.

The Maroons had just wrapped up an exhilarating, exhausting, 75-70 triple-overtime win over Waukee to book a Class 5A semifinal berth. Top-10 national recruit Caitlin Clark, having set a Class 5A tournament scoring record with 42 points, was at the center of the throng. Her fists clenched and her arms jolting forward, she unleashed an almighty scream.

"Live to see another day!" she bellowed, her teammates roaring back in approval.

Seeing the next round isn't something the junior has experienced before: The Maroons had lost at this stage the prior two years — first to Valley in 2017, then in another overtime showdown last winter against Iowa City West.

 She didn't need much reminding.

"Everybody says that to me. 'Caitlin, you've lost in the first round two times. I was like, 'I am not losing a third.' The seniors last year didn’t get what they deserved, and we all had that in the back of our heads today. We were just doing it for them and for everybody who has played before us.

"We played big today."

MORE ON CAITLIN CLARK: Inside the state star's national recruitment

In just the third game in state tournament history to go three overtimes, who didn't?

Someone had to for the Maroons, considering Clark fouled out on a charge call with just more than a minute remaining in the third overtime and Dowling ahead 70-68. Grace Gaber contributed 14 points, including two tiebreaking free throws with 42 seconds left after the Warriors' Katie Dinnebier knotted the game with a driving layup.

Dowling entered the final frame of regulation ahead 44-39 because of Meg Simplot's banked-in halfcourt buzzer-beater just before the third-quarter buzzer sounded.

Dinnebier finished with a team-high 31 points on a remarkable 10-for-14 shooting, including 5 of 6 from long range. Jori Nieman added 20 for Waukee (18-5) with the help of a 13-for-18 effort from the foul line.

No shortage of heroes in an instant classic.

"There’s nothing (our players) did today that we didn’t know was in there," Waukee coach Chris Guess said. "Tough. Grinders. They've got mental toughness, the ability to compete, they love challenges like that — that’s why they play the way they do. 

"They love the challenge and to compete. Man, did they ever. That had to be fun to watch."

► Follow the Register on FacebookTwitterInstagram and YouTube

The overtime sessions could hold their own highlight reel. Clark scored all 15 of Dowling's points in the first two extra periods. A hanging jumper from the right elbow gave the Maroons (17-7) a 53-51 lead, but Nieman responded with a 3 from the top of the key to put the Warriors ahead at the 1:42 mark.

Barely 20 seconds later, Clark struck back from NBA range on the left wing with the sixth of her seven 3-pointers on the afternoon.

Then, with Waukee needing a bucket to force double overtime, Dinnebier slashed to the basket for a layup with 6 seconds remaining to level the game at 56-all.


Clark negated Waukee's free-throw prowess — the Warriors were 21-for-27 for the game — in the second overtime with more magic from long range. She drew a foul on an attempt from the Farm Bureau logo about 30 feet from the basket before making three free throws to draw the Maroons within 63-62.

A step-back 18-footer one possession later evened the game again at 64-all. Dowling coach Kristin Meyer called a timeout to sit her star, who had accumulated four fouls at the time.

Given that move, Guess told his team to be patient on its ensuing possession with 1:45 remaining. The Warriors held the ball until the final seconds, when Dinnebier made an almost identical move to her right as she had minutes earlier. She converted, and the Waukee fans roared, without knowing the official on the baseline had called a charge.

Let's play three.

► More:How to watch and follow the 2019 Iowa high school girls' basketball state tournament

Gaber opened the scoring in the final period with a triple before Dinnebier returned fire with an old-fashioned 3-point play. Another Clark stepback, the last of those 42 points to go with 10 rebounds, surged Dowling ahead 69-67.

The Maroons were ahead 70-68 with the ball with 1:02 to go when Clark was called for the fifth foul near midcourt. Dinnebier's ensuing lay-in could have signaled a fourth overtime, something that had occurred just once before in the state tournament's history.

But Gaber drove hard to the hoop, drawing contact and making those free throws to break the deadlock. A Waukee miss on the other end led Gaber to hit two more and for Dowling, which had lost four of its starters on last year's team to graduation, to finally sense victory and its spot against Southeast Polk in Thursday morning's semifinals.

Dowling's Caitlin Clark and Dowling's Grace Gaber his after winning the Class 5A Iowa girls' state basketball tournament quarterfinal between Dowling Catholic and Waukee on Monday, Feb. 25, 2019, in Wells Fargo Arena.

"I think our other players have really grown and matured, become more confident throughout the season," Meyer said. "We know Caitlin take a lot of shots (Clark took an eye-popping 39 shots, making 14) and a lot of scoring, but they aren't just thinking they're along for the ride. They know they are key players on our team. To be honest, when Caitlin fouled out, I wasn’t even nervous, surprisingly."

"... They knew she’s coming out, and someone had to step up. I'm proud of all the girls and how hard they played. We stayed together, stayed calm and stayed composed."

Guess was buoyed by his own team's composure in the pressure-cooker atmosphere of the state tournament.

"It stings now, yeah, but it should sting. If you put that much time into something and don’t come out on top, competitive people are the ones who get right back after it," he said. "It fuels the fire even more."

► Support local journalism like thisSubscribe to the Des Moines Register

This game ended with Clark on the bench, but there was no doubting why the Maroons were indeed seeing another day. Guess knew, as well, and signaled to Clark after postgame interviews were over.

"You're tough!" she said, smiling, and he brought her in for a hug.

After the embrace, he offered a wry smile and an honest reply:

"Not quite tough enough."


Dowling Catholic   22   9   13   5   7   8   11   —   75
Waukee                 16   11   12   10   7   8   6   —   70

Dowling Catholic (17-7) — Clark 42, Gaber 14, Koethe 6, Simplot 6, Toang 3, McVey 3, Gipple 1. Also played — Tobias. Totals 22-60, 18-22 75.

Waukee (19-4) — Dinnebier 31, Nieman 20, L. Kelderman 6, Brown 6, Rau 5, Reitsma 2. Also played — P. Kelderman, Bartholomew. Totals 20-46 21-27 70.