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DES MOINES — Capsules on Thursday’s games at the boys’ state basketball tournament at Wells Fargo Arena:
No. 1 North Linn (26-0) vs. No. 2 Gladbrook-Reinbeck (25-2)
Time: 10:30 a.m.
In The Quarterfinals: North Linn overcame Maple Valley-Anthon-Oto, 54-49. Gladbrook-Reinbeck had an equally tough quarterfinal, scraping past Lynnville-Sully, 53-50.
Synopsis: This will be a battle of tremendous guards. North Linn’s Jake Hilmer leads the state in assists, recording seven of them to go along with a team-high 18 points in the quarterfinals. He’s just a sophomore. G-R’s Joe Smoldt is the state’s leading scorer (30.5 points per game) and a 2,000-point scorer in his prolific career. He had 29 points in the quarterfinals. North Linn’s Ryan Miller and David Seber are good outside shooters, with Seber leading the Lynx with 84 3-pointers this season. Miller averages 19 points per game. G-R counters with several athletes who played on this fall’s state championship football team.
Johnson says: This could be a fun, up-and-down game, considering North Linn came into this tournament averaging 78.8 points per game and Gladbrook-Reinbeck 69.3. North Linn hasn’t had close games all season but handled one well against MVAO. Gladbrook-Reinbeck has played a much tougher schedule, and that gives the Rebels the edge here. Maybe.
No. 2 Waverly-Shell Rock (23-1) vs. Cedar Rapids Xavier (14-11)
Time: 6:35 p.m.
In The Quarterfinals: Top-seeded Waverly-Shell Rock led from start to finish in a 58-45 win over Atlantic. A torrid second half lifted Xavier past Mount Pleasant, 59-44.
Synopsis: These teams played very early in the regular season at Waverly, with the Go-Hawks winning handily, 76-54. Waverly-Shell Rock has perhaps the top senior in the state in 6-foot-10 center Austin Phyfe. The Northern Iowa signee averages 19 points and 13 rebounds per game. Senior guard John Stensland is W-SR’s second-leading scorer (13.2 ppg). He’s a 42.2-percent shooter from 3-point range. Xavier’s big three are point guard Matt Mims (14.9 ppg, 5.4 assists per game), wing Jackson Joens (11.6 ppg, 44-percent 3-point shooter) and center Max Techau (12.5 ppg, 9.1 rebounds per game). Xavier is in the semifinals for the third consecutive year. Waverly-Shell Rock’s lone loss was to Class 4A Cedar Falls, which Xavier owns a victory over.
Johnson says: Can Techau handle Phyfe inside? Can W-SR contain Mims? These are different teams than when they played in the regular season. Waverly-Shell Rock has a lot of depth as well, and that just might prove out to be the difference. Should be a very fun game.
No. 1 West Delaware (25-0) vs. Sergeant Bluff-Luton (16-9)
Time: 8:15 p.m.
In The Quarterfinals: West Delaware built an 18-point lead and held on to topple Dallas Center-Grimes, 66-58. Sergeant Bluff-Luton provided perhaps the biggest upset of the tournament thus far, beating third-ranked Pella, 66-55.
Synopsis: West Delaware is big up front, with sophomore Derek Krogmann (6-foot-7) and John Nagel (6-6). Krogmann is WD’s leading scorer and had 11 points and 13 boards in the quarterfinals. All five Hawks starters scored in double figures against DC-G, led by guard Kyle Wright’s 14 points. Sergeant Bluff-Luton is not nearly as big, with four starters 6-2 or smaller. Guard Chris Kroll leads the Warriors in scoring (16.8 ppg), though he only had nine against Pella. Sophomore guard Conner Groves was the big scorer against the Dutch, with 17. Don’t be fooled by SB-L’s record. Six of its losses came to 4A teams.
Johnson says: Sergeant Bluff-Luton certainly will not be intimidated. It proved it belonged with that win over Pella. This is the Warriors’ first state tournament trip, by the way. They are a schedule-toughened team, for sure, but something says West Delaware’s size will be just too much. Take the Hawks.
THURSDAY’S OTHER GAMES
Class 1A semifinals: No. 5 Grand View Christian (25-1) vs. No. 3 Remsen St. Mary’s (25-0), 12:15 p.m.
Class 2A semifinals: No. 1 Western Christian (22-2) vs. Camanche (23-2), 2 p.m.
Class 2A semifinals: No. 6 Pella Christian (21-4) vs. No. 2 Carroll Kuemper (23-2), 3:45 p.m.
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