MARION - As the prep volleyball season nears the midway point, Cedar Rapids Xavier identified a vital ingredient if the Saints are to retain their No. 1 ranking in Class 4A.
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DES MOINES — You’ve heard it a million times. Here’s one million and one.
It’s tough to beat a team three times in the same season.
That old basketball cliche turned out to be prophetic in a bad way Monday night for Cascade, which lost its Class 2A state tournament quarterfinal to Camanche, 58-48, at Wells Fargo Arena.
The Cougars have handed their River Valley Conference rival both of its losses this season. Yet in the game that mattered most, Camanche (23-2) was the winner.
“We had three good games with them,” said Cascade’s Johnny Supple. “We came out with the first two. They got the last one.”
Supple scored five straight points to bring Cascade (22-3) into a 43-43 tie with 4:20 left, but precocious Camanche freshman Cameron Soenksen took over from there. The 6-foot-1 guard hit a driving shot, had a three-point play off a drive to the hoop, then made one of two free throws to put the Indians back on top, 49-43.
That was part of what turned out to be a telltale 10-0 run.
“They were simply the better team tonight,” said Cascade Coach Jacob Brindle. “They were a step (faster), a step more intense, and they made a couple more shots.”
Soenksen finished with a double-double of 17 points and 11 rebounds. Camanche had seven offensive boards, which was another significant statistic.
“They got us twice during the regular season,” said Camanche Coach Josh Davis. “We decided to kind of change up our 3-point attack and become more drive oriented. I think we still probably shot too many 3s, but that’s the way we play.”
Camanche was 3 of 18 from distance, taking some attempts from 25 to 30 feet. The Indians shot just 36.5 percent overall, but Cascade finished at an even worse 34 percent.
Supple was brilliant, finishing with 22 points and 19 rebounds. He and Gannon O’Brien were the only Cougars who got much playing time last season in a run to the Class 2A state championship game.
That Cascade was able to get back to Des Moines despite losing 80 percent of its scoring and its hall of fame coach Al Marshall to retirement is quite a testament. The Cougars’ top four scorers all return next season.
“We knew we lost a lot of players, but all season long, we had a goal, obviously, to come back here,” Supple said. “Not a lot of people thought that, but we kind of proved them wrong.”
“I am extremely proud of what these guys did this year,” Brindle said. “From the moment we left here last year as state runners-up, the whole narrative around our team was how we lost everybody ... These guys never bought into that.”
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