Class 3A Semifinals
Sergeant Bluff-Luton 72, West Delaware 59
The Sergeant Bluff-Luton boys’ basketball team assured that no team would go unscathed this season.
The Warriors downed previously unbeaten West Delaware, 72-59, on Thursday night in the Class 3A state semifinals. Sergeant Bluff-Luton, in the school’s first state tournament appearance, reached the championship game, where it’ll play defending champion Cedar Rapids Xavier at 6:05 p.m. on Saturday.
Sergeant Bluff-Luton (17-9) led nearly wire-to-wire, trailing for just 22 seconds in the first quarter before taking a 15-10 advantage into the second. There, two separate 9-2 runs gave the Warriors a 38-28 halftime lead.
Chris Kroll made certain his team kept that distance for the remainder of the game, scoring 32 points while also recording 10 rebounds, six assists and three steals. Behind him, Jackson Wright added 17 points and three boards. As a team, the Warriors shot 23 of 41 for the game.
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West Delaware falls to 25-1 on the year despite shooting 46.8 percent. What plagued the Hawks were the 12 committed turnovers, which the Warriors turned into 13 points. Derek Krogmann led West Delaware with 23 points and 14 rebounds. John Nagel added 19. The Hawks will play Waverly-Shell Rock in the 3A consolation game on Saturday at 12:05 p.m.
Cedar Rapids Xavier 47, Waverly-Shell Rock 41 (OT)
Back on Dec. 3, Cedar Rapids Xavier lost to Waverly-Shell Rock by 22 points. It was the first of what became a 4-9 start for the Saints, the defending Class 3A state champions.
On Thursday night, inside Wells Fargo Arena, the teams met again in the state semifinals. Both took vastly different paths — the Go-Hawks followed that December triumph with another 21 victories, earning the top seed in this week’s competition. The Saints rebounded from that 4-9 start to win 10 of their next 12, including the last four.
The rematch resembled almost nothing like the first meeting, as Xavier topped Waverly-Shell Rock in overtime, 47-41, to reach its second consecutive 3A state championship game. The Saints, now 15-11, will play Saturday at 6:05 p.m.
“We feel very fortunate to come away with a win tonight,” Xavier coach Ryan Luehrsmann said. “Adversity struck us early with some fouls, but they picked it up and battled through it. Bottom line, we got stops when we needed to.”
The game took time to develop. The Go-Hawks led just 16-14 at halftime, wherein there were a combined eight total field goals made. The game remained that close throughout — neither team led by more than six.
The second half belonged to Xavier’s Matthew Mims and Waverly-Shell Rock’s Austin Phyfe, a Northern Iowa basketball signee. They went basket-for-basket for a time, each getting to the rim with relative ease. Mims led Xavier with 21 points on 7 of 16 shooting while Phyfe dropped 22 on 8 of 14 and grabbed 11 rebounds.
Phyfe opened the extra period by muscling toward the rim for a bucket and-one to put the Go-Hawks up three. A couple of possessions later, Mims answered with a triple to put Xavier up for good.
Behind Mims, Jackson Joens scored 14 points, 12 of which came in the second half. For Waverly-Shell Rock, Mosai Newsom added six behind Phyfe. The Go-Hawks fall to 23-2 overall, and will play in Saturday’s 3A consolation game at 12:05 p.m.
Class 2A Semifinals
Western Christian (Hull) 94, Camanche 44
The Camanche boys’ basketball team learned first hand why Western Christian (Hull) has won two of the past three Class 2A state titles, and will be playing for a third on Friday night.
The Wolfpack dismantled the Indians 94-44, in the first 2A state semifinal on Thursday afternoon at Wells Fargo Arena. Western Christian, now 23-2 on the year, will get a chance to win its ninth state title, and its third in the past four years, at 8:05 p.m. Friday.
The game was all Western from the beginning. Ben Gesink took the Wolfpack’s first five shots, hitting three. Soon, Western uncorked a 32-7 run during the first half, giving it a 53-25 halftime lead. The onslaught continued into the second half.
As a team, the Wolfpack shot 34-for-56 for the game, scored 42 points in the paint and 18 off fast-breaks. They outrebounded Camanche 43-19 and forced 12 turnovers that led to 17 points. Gesink ended up with 24 points. Jesse Jansma led all scorers with 27, and Jacob Vis added 16.
Camanche struggled mightily from beyond the arc during the game. The Indians shot 7-for-34 from 3-point land and were 14-for-49 overall from the field. Dylan Hundley led the way with 12 points. Camanche falls to 23-3 on the year, and will play in Friday’s 2A consolation game at 11:45 a.m.
Class 1A Semifinals
Gladbrook-Reinbeck 58, North Linn 53
For the second time in three years, the Gladbrook-Reinbeck boys’ basketball team will play in the Class 1A state championship game.
The Rebels knocked off previously unbeaten North Linn, 58-53, in the state semifinals on Thursday morning at Wells Fargo Arena. Gladbrook-Reinbeck improved to 26-2 and will play in Friday’s title game against Grand View Christian at 6:05 p.m. The Lynx fall to 26-1 overall, and will play in Friday morning’s consolation round against St. Mary’s (Remsen).
“I think experience played a role,” Gladbrook-Reinbeck coach Scott Kiburis said. “We’ve talked about that before. These guys have been in big games — state championship football games, state baseball and soccer games. Obviously, they were in the state championship game two years ago and had a lot of close games down the stretch.
“I definitely think that experience pays off.”
The Rebels opened the game on a 7-0 run. But the Lynx stormed back, thanks to a 15-3 run of their own, to lead 35-26 early in the third quarter. Gladbrook-Reinbeck chipped away at the lead and was within two points entering the fourth quarter.
That’s when senior Joe Smoldt turned it up. Smoldt scored the first five points of an 8-0 Rebel run to open the final eight minutes. He finished with a team-high 19 points and went 4-for-8 from deep. He added nine rebounds and another eight assists, many of which went to Tyler Pierce, who scored 17 points on 6-for-9 shooting.
Jake Hilmer led North Linn with 20 points, but shot 7-for-21 from the field, including a 3-for-10 mark after halftime. The Lynx shot 18-for-58 for the game and missed all 13 of their 3-point attempts in the second half after draining five in the first two quarters. Ryan Miller added 15 points behind Hilmer. No other North Linn player scored more than six.
Cody Goodwin covers high school sports, college basketball recruiting and Drake athletics for the Des Moines Register. Follow him on Twitter at @codygoodwin.