Business returned to normal for the Cascade girls’ basketball team as it cruised past Beckman, 71-46, in the Class 2A Region 5 semifinal game played in Cascade, Feb. 21.

Just three days after having their first off game of the season, this squad pushed the reset button and returned to the top-ranked team in Class 2A that the faithful following in Cascade has grown used to seeing.

Points came fast and furious for the Cougars (24-0) as they pushed around Beckman (9-14) on both ends of the court. With 6:14 left in the first quarter, just seconds after scoring her first basket of the night, Skylar Dolphin recorded her first floor burn of the game to set the tone for the Cougars who roared out to a 20-7 lead after the first quarter.

Nicole McDermott was at the point of most of the action as she scored 10 of her game-high 21 points in the opening quarter. Most of those points came on lay-ups as McDermott was either leading the fast break or attacking the basket. She broke out her jumper in the second quarter dropping two bombs from behind the arc as the lead grew to 25 at halftime and the Cougars never looked back.

“I thought we did a really good job of playing hard, keeping them off the free throw line and rebounding,” said Mike Sconsa, the Cougars’ head coach. “We also got out and ran tonight. That was a big thing for us. I wanted us to get out and go. We were able to force turnovers at half court. I was really happy with how we shared (the basketball). When you hit shots it makes a big difference.”

What also makes a big difference is having an all-state caliber player on the court who is an extension of the coach, who has the ability to calm things down, make corrections on the floor and get the girls fired up, focused and engaged.

“It’s a total team effort with us. We go through Nicole, she’s our engine, but we have a lot of pieces who make up this puzzle,” said Sconsa. “Skylar played well. Abby Welter played well. Jordan Simon played exceptionally well and Ally Hoffman continues to play well for us. It was a great win for us.”

The two teams played even in the second half and even though Beckman played tougher, it was clear that Cascade wasn’t going to lose this one. The Trailblazers turned to the three-pointer and managed to make four of them in the third quarter and three more in the fourth, but the closest they would come was cutting the lead to 17 points, 56-39, with 4:34 left in the game.

Three other Cougars scored in double figures to help Cascade reach the 70 point mark for the seventh time this year. Dolphin had 16 points while Welter added 13 and Ally Hoffman 11, Jordan Simon six, Alyssa Lux three and Elizabeth Gibbs one.

“We wanted to play better than we did Tuesday night. We also remembered the last time we played Beckman and felt that we didn’t play very well that night, so we wanted to come out and show everybody who we really are,” said McDermott, who along with Dolphin, Jordan Simon and Welter played in their final home game for Cascade. “The fans were great tonight. It was a packed house, like every night. Our fans are awesome. It’s a little sad I won’t be playing here again, but we still have a run to make at the tournament.”

“I thought, for the most part, we played outstanding basketball. It was good. The kids were amped up and they were focused,” said Sconsa. “It was a long week to get ready for this game, but now we have to get ready for Wednesday.”

Wednesday, Feb. 26 at 7 p.m., is when the Cougars take on Iowa City Regina for the right to be a member of the elite eight and earn a ticket to compete in Des Moines for the Class 2A state championship.