On one possession Friday, Charley Crowley spun through the Sioux City East defense and laid the ball into the net for two points. On another, the Valley senior battled for a hard-fought tip-in. On yet another, he flew through for an up-and-under basket.
For the second straight game, Crowley led the Valley boys’ basketball team in scoring with an efficient performance. The 6-foot-8 big man dropped 25 points in the Class 4A semifinals, leading the Tigers to a 64-54 victory over Sioux City East at Wells Fargo Arena.
“It was a little bit of everything,” Crowley said. “My teammates did a good job getting me the ball.”
The victory pushed defending champion Valley to 21-4 overall and back into the 4A final for the third time in four years. The Tigers get top seeded Iowa City West at 8:05 p.m. Saturday.
Crowley was brilliant, scoring his 25 points on 8-for-9 shooting. He added eight boards, an assist, a steal and went 9-for-10 from the free-throw line. Over Valley’s past two games, he’s shooting 71.4 percent from the field and averaging 22.5 points. Even more, he’s turned it over just once in 58 game minutes.
“He’s doing what we want seniors to do at this time of the year,” Valley coach B.J. Windhorst said, “and that’s step up.”
The return of Quinton Curry has helped open up the floor for Crowley. Curry, last year’s most valuable player in Valley’s state championship game, demands attention from defenses, but also combines with Crowley to make life difficult on opposing big men.
On Friday, the prey was Sioux City East’s Van Rees, a 6-foot-6 junior who entered this week scoring 20.7 points per game. Rees still went for 23 against Valley, but was mostly held in check throughout the second and third quarters, thanks to Crowley and Curry.
“They frustrated him a lot,” Sioux City East coach Ras Vanderloo said. “Rees is good against one guy. He’s still good against two, but it’s a different approach when you have two big horses coming at you like Valley has. It slowed him down a little bit.”
Curry only scored eight points after putting up 17 in the Tigers’ quarterfinal win on Wednesday. He ultimately fouled out late in the fourth quarter, but Crowley made certain that development was a nonfactor, slamming home his fifth dunk of the tournament to help keep the Raiders at a distance.
After trading leads three times in the first half, Valley had a 30-25 advantage at halftime. The Tigers then used a 9-2 run in the third to go up 39-30 in the third. The Raiders never came within one possession after that, turning the ball over 17 total times during the game — which Valley turned into 25 points.
“We just got beat by a better team,” Vanderloo said. “That’s hard to swallow as a player and a coach, but it’s facts.”
While Crowley went off, the Tigers got contributions from a slew of others — five other Valley players scored at least six points. The effort was enough for Windhorst and his players to get back to the state title game, an achievement he didn’t envision at the start of the season.
“We started the season with four new starters and our top player almost out for the season,” Windhorst said. “In my mind, with these guys, getting to the state tournament would’ve been like going to the state championship. It hasn’t been pretty, but these guys continue to find ways to win.
“Now, here we are.”
Sioux City East (54) — Vanderloo 8, Billings 6, Taylor 9, Rees 23, Hildahl 5, Peterson 3. Also played — Dunson, Siebersma. Totals: 20-46, 9-10.
W.D.M. Valley (64) — Hinkle 6, Skinner 8, Dennis 7, Crowley 25, Curry 8, Sueppel 1, Samples 2, Frey 6. Also played — Jeffers, Whipple, Rodruck, Jensen, Brinkmeyer, Brown. Totals: 20-37, 18-26.
Sioux City East…16 9 12 17 — 54
W.D.M. Valley…16 14 11 23 — 64
3-pointers — Valley 6 (Skinner 2, Frey 2, Hinkle 1, Dennis 1), Sioux City East 5 (Taylor 3, Hildahl 1, Peterson 1). Fouls — Sioux City East 25, Valley 17. Technical Fouls — None. Fouled Out — Valley 1 (Curry), Sioux City East 1 (Vanderloo).
Cody Goodwin covers high school sports, college basketball recruiting and Drake athletics for the Des Moines Register. Follow him on Twitter at @codygoodwin.