Ames senior Javan White puts up a shot against Hoover on Wednesday, March 11, 2015, at Wells Fargo Arena in Des Moines, Iowa.
It was a state tournament statement only Hoover could make.
Tasked with Ames – another aggressive CIML squad – in Wednesday night’s Class 4-A quarterfinals, the third-ranked Huskies wrote a classic on the defensive end, controlling each possession of a 38-29 win.
Hoover’s style wasn’t enjoyable for every fan at Wells Fargo Arena, but returning to the semifinals makes it critically acclaimed.
“Oh, we could have played better,” said Hoover forward Douglas Wilson after holding Ames to single digits in all four quarters.
STATE TOURNAMENT: Brackets
In their first win since a runner-up finish in 2011, the Huskies (22-1) hounded, deflected, annoyed and just-plain frustrated a resurgent Ames team.
The Little Cyclones didn’t lead after the first quarter, and a 10-point fourth quarter lead felt a chasm away from a comeback.
“The quickness of that team was amazing,” Ames senior guard Sam Rathe said. “Their defense was so tough.
“It just came down to them executing really well tonight.”
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Ames was without junior wing Colby Shane, the team’s second leading scorer and top 3-point shooter this season. Shane was suffering from what coach Vance Downs termed a “viral infection” and stayed on the bench in warmups and an arm sling.
“The first inclination we had that he couldn’t play was last night,” Downs said.
Junior Joey Stohlmeyer stepped admirably into Shane’s place, scoring eight points and defending the Metro Conference’s top scorer, Chris King. But Shane’s athleticism and 12.7 points per game were a difficult absence to overcome in a game with limited possessions.
“It was tough without Colby, but we tried to find a way to come together and get it done,” said Ames senior center Javan White. “We knew what the task at hand was, we just fell short this time.”
Point guard Khallid Edwards led Hoover with 14 points, while Wilson had nine and King chipped in eight. The second-half lead was cut as close as two points in the third quarter, but the Huskies milked every bit of momentum.
“Once we get teams spread out, it’s a lot harder to guard us,” Edwards said. “But Ames had a big shot blocker in the paint, so we had to take some more jump shots and pass off when we had the chance.”
White led Ames with 10 points and 10 rebounds. His outstanding post presence came in small doses as the ball was often kept away from his long reach by Hoover’s shift guards.
Hoover stood with the ball on several occasions, watching time drip off the clock near half-court until the Little Cyclones would extend their compact defensive sets.
“It’s tough,” Rathe said. “If you’re sitting back in a zone, it’s like, ‘What are we supposed to do?’ You just try to get up, but with their quickness, it’s hard to get up to half-court without them getting around you. It’s pick your poison.”
Hoover won a meeting between the two teams at the beginning of the season, 48-38, in Ames.
Wednesday night’s meeting would never get that open, as the Huskies shot 9-of-15 in the opening 16 minutes and slowed the third quarter down to chants of “Boring!” from the Ames student section.
It was a classic Hoover performance, rewarded by a semifinal meeting with Pleasant Valley (22-2) on Friday.
“Defense and rebounds, that’s what we emphasize,” Edwards said. “We stuck to the gameplan.”
AMES (29) — Rathe 4, Stohlmeyer 8, Steyer 3, White 10, Agbaje 4. Also played—Mumm, Smith, Chuol, Chotkuac, Frankl, Weiss, Bichel. Totals 13-36 1-4.
HOOVER (38) — Edwards 14, Thomas 1, King 8, Lee 4, Wilson 9, Marschel 2. Also played—Wadsworth, Jackson, Thedford, Quinn. Totals 14-29 8-14.
Ames…8 7 5 9 — 29
Hoover…11 10 4 13 — 38
3-point goals — Ames 2 (Stohlmeyer, Steyer), Hoover 2 (Edwards 2). Fouls — Ames 14, Hoover 10.