CEDAR RAPIDS — The top-ranked boys’ basketball team in Class 3A tries to make it to the state basketball tournament Monday night at the U.S. Cellular Center. So does the defending champion.
They’re not playing each other.
The substate final double-header sees No. 1 West Delaware taking on Center Point-Urbana in the 8 p.m. nightcap. Old parochial rivals Cedar Rapids Xavier and Dubuque Wahlert get things started at 6:30.
Xavier and Wahlert met in last year’s state championship game, with the Saints preventing a Golden Eagles three-peat. They played very late this regular season, with Xavier winning, 71-52.
But take that result with a grain of salt. Wahlert starters Matt Bandy and Peter Timmerman sat out with injuries.
“They’re a great team, a different team than they were the first time we played them,” Xavier’s Quinn Schulte said.
The regular season wasn’t particularly kind to either club. The perils of playing in the 4A Mississippi Valley Conference.
Xavier has a 12-11 record, Wahlert just 7-15. But here they are, as usual, on the verge of getting back to Des Moines.
Wahlert has made 27 state tourney appearances, including three in a row. Xavier is seeking its third in a row and has five overall.
“Yeah, it’s two totally different teams than last year,” Xavier’s Jackson Joens said. “But Wahlert is Wahlert. They’re going to bring it.”
Likewise, West Delaware and Center Point-Urbana played each other late in the regular season. The Hawks (23-0) rallied in the second half for a 55-44 win.
CP-U Coach Mike Halac said his team learned a lot.
“I think that game allowed our guys to see that we can compete with anyone,” he said.
Center Point-Urbana (17-6) has a very good, versatile 6-foot-5 junior in Grant Dirks (20.5 points per game, 7.5 rebounds per game). Three of the Stormin’ Pointers’ top four scorers are juniors.
West Delaware’s leading scorer is 6-7 sophomore Derek Krogmann, who averages a double-double of 16 points and 11 rebounds. Iowa State football recruit John Nagel add another big body at 6-6.
“Grant Dirks is the real deal, (guard) Dylan Harris is a great shooter, (guard) JoJo Frost a phenomenal athlete for them,” West Delaware Coach Matt Uthoff said. “Our gameplan doesn’t change. We just need to do what we do ... Show up and do what we do. It should be a tremendous game.”
There are six other 3A substate finals around the state Monday night, as well as a 1A substate final between Remsen St. Mary’s and Boyden-Hull. Class 4A substate final are Tuesday night.
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