Experience mattered not to the Sergeant Bluff-Luton boys’ basketball team this week. In the Warriors’ first trip to the state tournament, they made a run all the way to Saturday night’s championship game at Wells Fargo Arena.
But the experience of having been in the finals stage before paid off for their counterparts, Cedar Rapids Xavier. After a wild back-and-forth contest, full of clean, entertaining basketball, the Saints emerged victorious, 54-49, to claim their second consecutive Class 3A state title.
“Well here we are again,” Xavier coach Ryan Luehrsmann said. “It feels good. It feels really good.”
There were 21 total lead changes, 11 of which occurred in the first half. The Saints distanced themselves in the third quarter, closing the frame on a 9-2 run for a 40-35 lead heading into the fourth.
From there, six more lead changes took place, the final coming when Matthew Mims slithered through the Warrior defense for a bucket to put the Saints up 50-49. The junior finished with a team-high 17 points and dished out five assists.
“Coach challenged me and told me to make plays,” Mims said. “I just wanted to deliver for us. I put in a lot of work in the offseason for moments like that.”
Four other Xavier players scored in double figures. Nolan Butkhowski added 12 and Jackson Joens scored 11 on 3 of 5 shooting from behind the arc. Max Techau also scored 12, grabbed five rebounds and blocked two shots.
Joens and Butkhowski hit two free throws each down the stretch to ice the game. After Butkhowski hit his first to make it a two-possession game, Mims started dancing behind him around the court. Butkhowski smiled at the line. He knew he had won it.
“I just went up and tried to block everything out,” Butkhowski said, “and once I hit it, it was just a sigh of relief. Then Matt came up to me. He surprised me a little bit.
“But it was all fun.”
Sergeant Bluff-Luton (49) — Kroll 13, Savary 10, Wright 19, DeMoss 7. Also played — Groves, Boekelman, Salker, Croston. Totals: 21-45, 3-5.
Cedar Rapids Xavier (54) — Mims 17, Butkhowski 12, Joens 11, Techau 12, Johnson 2. Also played — Q Schulte, B Schulte. Totals: 21-44, 6-6.
Sergeant Bluff-Luton…12 13 10 14 — 49
Cedar Rapids Xavier…13 14 13 14 — 54
3-pointers—Xavier 6 (Joens 3, Butkhowski 2, Mims 1), SBL 4 (Savary 2, Kroll 1, DeMoss 1). Fouls—Xavier 12, SBL 9. Technical Fouls—None. Fouled Out—None.
Cody Goodwin covers high school sports, college basketball recruiting and Drake athletics for the Des Moines Register. Follow him on Twitter at @codygoodwin.
Class 3A All-Tournament Team
Jackson Wright, Sergeant Bluff-Luton
Chris Kroll, Sergeant Bluff-Luton
Austin Phyfe, Waverly-Shell Rock
John Nagel, West Delaware
Jackson Joens, Cedar Rapids Xavier
Matthew Mims, Cedar Rapids Xavier (Captain)