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CEDAR RAPIDS — A team that is so tough on the interior won its Class 3A substate final Monday night thanks to a shot from the perimeter.
Guard Kyle Wright’s clutch corner 3-pointer with 1:41 remaining put top-ranked West Delaware on top for what turned out to be good in a 54-51 thriller of a victory over Center Point-Urbana at the U.S. Cellular Center.
West Delaware (24-0) is the likely top seed at next week’s state tournament in Des Moines. Everyone will find that out together Wednesday, as the Iowa High School Athletic Association is doing a big online reveal of all the brackets.
This is the Hawks’ first state trip since 2008. Head coach Matt Uthoff, who celebrated his 35th birthday Monday, was on a WD team in 2000 that was 3A runner-up.
“Pretty emotional,” Uthoff said. “For me, I got the opportunity to play on this floor 17 years ago and go to the state tournament. To come back as coach and lead these guys down there, it is an amazing feeling. Just to see the look in our guys’ eyes. This is for our community. To see the progress these guys have made in our four years here has just been astonishing.”
Center Point-Urbana (17-7) led for a large portion of this extremely tight, back-and-forth game, though never by more than five. The Stormin’ Pointers had a 51-49 lead under the two-minute mark, when West Delaware point guard Ryan Trainer penetrated the lane on a set play and kicked it to the corner to a wide-open Wright.
His shot was money.
“It’s a play we’ve drawn up,” said Wright, who had made five treys in what is usually a tough shooting environment for preps who aren’t used to the open background. “We’ve always had it. It was just open. It worked.”
CP-U then missed a shot to go back ahead. Trainer missed a one-and-one free throw with a minute left, giving the Stormin’ Pointers a last crack and victory.
After a timeout with 27 seconds to go, outstanding 6-foot-5 junior center Grant Dirks received a pass inside, met a double team and kicked it out to the top of the arc to teammate Dylan Harris, CP-U’s top perimeter shooter. But his 3-pointer airballed short and out of bounds with 17.3 seconds left.
John Nagel, the Iowa State football signee, then made two free throws to put WD up three. Center Point-Urbana had one final crack but Harris’ desperation trey attempt just before the horn was again short.
“I am so proud of our boys,” said Center Point-Urbana Coach Mike Halac. “They wouldn’t back down for a second, went punch for punch against just an unbelievable team ... I thought we had some great looks at the end. I loved the ball in Dylan’s hands there. A great baseline floater that he left a little short, a couple looks from 3 that from my angle I thought were perfect. Just short.”
Nagel, at 6-foot-6, and 6-7 sophomore Derek Krogmann are the pillers of West Delaware’s team, though CP-U combatted leading scorer Krogmann especially well, holding him to 13 points.
Nagel had a team-high 20 points, surpassing the 1,000-point mark for his career. Wright also had 20 points.
“I knew it was going to be hard,” Wright said. “I thought it would be a little bit bigger (spread), but they provided the competition I thought they would. They were really physical down low, they handled our bigs (defensively) and still controlled our shooters for the most part.”
West Delaware beat Center Point-Urbana by 11 points late in the regular season, though the Stormin’ Pointers led in the second half. Dirks had a game-high 22 points for them, making 9 of his 10 shots from the field.
“I thought Center Point did a great job of challenging us tonight (offensively),” Uthoff said. “They found some holes in our defense often, and it was frustrating. They ran a lot of sets. But my message to the guys when I got here four years ago was that we were going to guard people. We always talk about getting three stops in a row. With 27 seconds to go, I told them ‘You’ve got one stop that’s holding you from being in the state tournament.’”
They made that stop.
AT U.S. CELLULAR CENTER
CENTER POINT-URBANA (51): Mitchell McCauley 4-7 1-1 9, Grant Dirks 9-10 2-2 22, Jared Metzen 0-0 0-0 0, Dylan Harris 4-11 2-3 12, JoJo Frost 1-3 0-0 3, Cody Westcott 2-8 1-2 5, Alex Wade 0-0 0-0 0. Totals 20-39 6-8 51.
WEST DELAWARE (54): John Nagel 8-20 4-4 20, Derek Krogmann 5-6 3-8 13, Ryan Trainer 0-4 1-3 1, Tyler Kelley 0-5 0-0 0, Kyle Wright 6-12 3-3 20, Marshall McCarty 0-3 0-0 0, Troy Monaghan 0-0 0-0 0. Totals 19-50 11-18 54.
Halftime – Center Point-Urbana 26, West Delaware 25. 3-point goals – Center Point-Urbana 5-12 (McCauley 0-1, Dirks 2-2, Harris 2-6, Frost 1-2, Westcott 0-1), West Delaware 5-14 (Nagel 0-1, Trainer 0-1, Kelley 0-1, Wright 5-8, McCarty 0-3). Rebounds – Center Point-Urbana 22 (Dirks, Frost 4), West Delaware 25 (Krogmann 9). Team fouls – Center Point-Urbana 13, West Delaware 10. Fouled out – None. Turnovers – Center Point-Urbana 12, West Delaware 7.
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