DES MOINES — Katelyn McNamara was not prepared Tuesday afternoon to deliver a season-ending postgame talk to her Davenport Assumption girls basketball team.
After three lopsided regional victories, a week of spirited practices and a veteran team that had been on the court at Wells Fargo Arena a season ago, McNamara was confident the Knights' state tournament stay would last beyond one day.
North Polk nixed that idea.
Assumption shot a meager 23.3 percent, turned the ball over 16 times and committed 23 fouls in a 64-47 defeat to North Polk in a Class 3A state quarterfinal contest.
"The determination we've been practicing with and the vibes we were getting as coaches, there was no way we were going home today," McNamara said, "so to walk into the locker room afterward was pretty heartbreaking.
"That's especially true when you've got a group of kids like we do that you truly love."
It was Assumption's second consecutive quarterfinal setback. It was the second straight year the Knights struggled scoring here.
Despite hauling in 19 offensive rebounds, Assumption (16-9) could not string together baskets. McNamara's squad was 14 of 60 from the field, including 5 of 22 from beyond the arc.
"Playing in Wells is a completely different environment," senior post Hannah Wislander said. "Our mistakes are 10 times more magnified than they would be in a regular game.
"We came out and tried to shake the nerves, but I think it got the best of us."
There were two turning points.
The first came in the final minute of the first half. Assumption led by a point and wanted to hold for the last shot.
Instead, the Knights turned it over twice and the Comets (22-3) capitalized with five points to snare a 26-22 edge.
"That was huge," North Polk coach Clint Albertsen said. "It was a really big boost."
"They definitely went into halftime with more momentum than we did," McNamara admitted.
The other swing came in the third quarter.
After Assumption pulled within a point following a Bailey Brown 3-pointer, North Polk used a 12-2 surge to open up a double-digit advantage. The margin swelled to 15 points a little more than a minute into the fourth quarter.
Assumption went more than six minutes without a field goal, the final 4:43 of the third quarter and first 90 seconds of the fourth.
"We knew (Assumption) was pretty 3-point-oriented," Albertsen said. "I like our length, so I thought we could bother them where some people couldn't do that."
McNamara said she would have liked to seen her team run better offense at times. Even so, she couldn't fault her players for taking open perimeter shots.
"You live by the three and die by the three, I suppose," she said.
It was more than missed shots that haunted Assumption.
The Knights allowed the Comets to shoot 30 free throws. North Polk, with four underclassmen in its starting lineup and playing in its first state tournament in 10 years, connected on 24.
Freshman Maggie Phipps led three North Polk players in double figures with 13 points while Katie Brown had 12 and Jaedon Murphy chipped in 11.
Brown drained four 3-pointers and finished with a game-high 18 points. Wislander joined her in double figures with 11 points and eight boards.
It was particularly emotional for Brown afterward.
The three-year starter finished with 893 career points and shared the experience alongside her sisters, Carlye and Delaney.
"It is weird to think I'll never put this jersey on with my sisters again," Brown said. "I've been playing with them since kindergarten, and it is over in a blink of an eye."
The Knights will have some substantial holes to fill next season. Besides the Browns, Wislander, Grace Jacobsen, Molly Gervase and Caroline Crosby are seniors.
"The senior leadership here is bar none," McNamara said. "We haven't had a large senior group like this for quite some time."
Still, McNamara believes Assumption can remain competitive moving forward.
Post Allie Timmons and guard Lauren Herrig saw considerable minutes Tuesday, and McNamara is excited about the athleticism of the group coming up.
"I'm confident," McNamara said, "our program is in good hands moving forward."