Spartans coach Tom Petersen shouts instructions to his team during the first half of Wednesday's state quarterfinal win.

Spartans get second shot at Springville

Girls State Basketball Tournament 1A Semifinal: Exira-EHK (24-1) vs. Springville (22-3), Friday, March 2

 DES MOINES (March 2) -- Three years ago, an upstart 11th-ranked Springville team pulled off a semifinal upset at the Girls State Basketball Tournament, scoring the first 16 points of the game and holding off No. 2 Exira-Elk Horn-Kimballton 68-57.
 The Orioles have rarely looked back since, finishing as state runner-up in 2015 and winning the last two state titles in Class 1A. The Spartans have made it back to state each year as well, and on Wednesday advanced to their third semifinal in four years with a 57-47 win over AGWSR. Springville also took care of business, defeating Algona Bishop Garrigan 54-36.
 The two teams will finally meet again on Friday when the top-seeded Orioles (22-3) face the fourth-seeded Spartans (24-1) at Wells Fargo Arena. The 1A semifinal will tip off at 1:30 p.m., followed by Newell-Fonda (25-0) vs. Central Decatur (25-0) at 3:15. The winners will meet Saturday at 7:00 p.m. to decide the 1A championship.
 For Exira-EHK, Friday’s rematch, of sorts, presents a big opportunity.
 “Everyone always underestimates us, so we like to prove people wrong,” said Spartan senior Sophia Peppers, who led her team with 18 points and 10 rebounds vs. Springville as a freshman. “(Coach Tom Petersen) drew a mountain on the board and he said that Springville is the top of the mountain and we’re going to want to be able to climb that mountain to succeed later in life. To defeat them, we’re going to need to want it more.”

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