By KEVIN THOMPSON
INGALLS — A more boisterous and vociferous crowd the Ingalls gym may have not seen in a long time, as they literally tore the roof off the doghouse.
And the Lady Bulldogs repaid them in full.
The top team in Class 1A-Division II advanced to Saturday's championship game with a resounding 56-31 win over Fowler in a game that wasn't as close as the score indicated.
The Lady Bulldogs (21-0) got ahead by as much as 32 late into the third period, and they got there in typical Ingalls fashion.
After a slow start, down 4-3 after the opening two minutes, Ingalls went on a 28-1 run over the next 10 minutes.
In that span, the Bulldog defense caused eight straight turnovers against the Lady Goldbugs and 15 for the half.
Ingalls distributed the ball generously among four starters in the first half, with Deisy Estrada scoring nine, Kaisha Batman 10, Tara Whipple four and Rebecca Wyatt 11 to dominate the Fowler from both inside and outside.
The first half was reminiscent of a December meeting in which Ingalls beat Fowler 44-7, but the game was more like the 52-37 win over the Goldbugs in January.
Fowler's leading scorers were Nicole Friesen with 13 and Ashten Clark with 11, but 15 of those combined points came in the second half when the result was well in hand.
When it was all sorted out in the end on the Ingalls side, Wyatt had 16, Estrada 11 and Batman 10, and coach Roger Thurlow had a glow on his face.
"I think we had some snow-break rust," he said of the opening two minutes before his team got on track. "We've had three practices since Valentine's Day."
Part of that was the snow's fault, but he looked at it as 50-50 kind of thing.
"We got refreshed. We got rested up. But there was some rust," Thurlow said. "But once we got going, we played well."
Estrada, who has just had one practice in that span due to illness, probably had the best game of the night. And Wyatt was on, Thurlow said.
"If she will play with good pace and not force the issue and take what comes to her, she has been unbelievable all year," he said. "She's averaged a double-double all year. She's consistent and dominant."
Inside, outside, sharing the ball — Thurlow was pleased with the total team effort.
"It was a great performance," he said. "Now we just have to get our 'A' game ready for Saturday."
That refers to the 6 p.m. matchup against the third-seeded Ashland Lady Eagles, who beat Moscow 62-30 earlier. It's also a team Ingalls has beaten twice already this year, but Thurlow said the Eagles are going to be tough.
"They shoot the ball great if you let them get into a rhythm. What we're going to do is try to mess up their rhythm and force our style of play against them," he said.
Two weeks ago at Ingalls, that Ashland rhythm included getting hot from the outside early, and that will be one angle to stop on Saturday.
"If we can do that and get into the paint, we'll be successful," he said. "It's going to be a good game."
And if they win, it will be Ingalls' third straight trip to the state tournament.
"We've had a good run the last few years," Thurlow said. "They work hard and they're talented, but they're also very unselfish. That showed tonight with our first team; they don't really care who scores. It's fun to have girls like that."
Fowler 4 5 8 14 -- 31
Ingalls 16 18 12 10 -- 56
Fowler (12-10) - S. Dressler 1 0-0 2, C. Dressler 0 0-2 0, Stubblefield 0-0 2, Clark 2 7-10 11, McDowell 0 1-2 1, Heinz 1 0-0 2, Friesen 5 3-4 13. Totals 10-38 11-18 31.
Ingalls (21-0) - Estrada 3 4-6 11, Andazola 2 0-0 4, Batman 3 2-2 10, Whipple 2 0-1 4, Cure 1 0-0 3, Renick 2 1-2 5, Wyatt 7 2-6 16, Tremmel 1 1-2 3. Totals 21-51 10-19 56.
3-pt. goals — Fowler 0-9, Ingalls 4-9 (Estrada, Batman 2, Cure). Rebounds — Fowler 23 (Clark 5), Ingalls 19 (Wyatt 6, Rennick 5). Technical fouls — Fowler (coach). Fouled out — none. Total fouls — Fowler 16, Ingalls 19.