CEDAR RAPIDS — He didn’t play much because he was in foul trouble virtually the entire night.
But you’ve got to respect Alex Whalen’s courage. Or something else, as longtime college hoops TV guy Bill Raftery likes to call them.
The senior guard swished a go-ahead 3-pointer out top with under two minutes left, then converted a couple of free throws a minute later to help secure Marion’s 55-49 win over Davenport Assumption in a Class 3A boys’ basketball substate final Monday night at the U.S. Cellular Center.
“I tried not to let foul trouble get in my head,” Whalen said. “I sat out most of the second half, and I was itching on the bench to get back in. I just got the ball and knew we had to get a shot. I stepped up and let it fly.”
The Indians will be the state tournament’s Cinderella, taking a 14-10 record to Des Moines next week. It’s their first appearance at The Well since 2011.
You’re fibbing if you thought two weeks ago this was what these guys were capable of doing. But they beat Maquoketa by three in their first postseason game, upset seventh-ranked West Delaware in the substate semifinals and knocked off an Assumption club with the same record coming in but one that played a virtually all-4A schedule.
“I knew going into the season that we had great kids who would work hard, and that showed the entire year,” said Coach Mike Manderscheid. “I asked my son (senior guard Jevin) to give me the pulse of the team before we started the playoffs. He told me he thought if we played well, we could make it to state. I just said that was good to hear. Their goal was not to win a tournament game, it was saying ‘Hey, you know what. We need to play well enough to get to state.’ And they did.”
“All season, we were inconsistent,” said Marion’s Trevor Paulsen. “But I knew if we got it going at the right time, we could make a run here in the tournament.” Marion played a great first half, taking a 30-22 lead into halftime. Continually pounding the ball inside to try and use a significant size advantage, Assumption worked back to even at 38-38 going to the fourth.
The fourth quarter was back and forth, with Assumption assuming as much as a three-point lead. It was 49-48 Knights when Whalen hit his clutch trey with 1:52 remaining.
Paulsen then blocked an Assumption shot, which eventually led to Whalen’s free throws with 1:04 left. A couple more defensive stops cemented the win.
Coaches will have a seeding meeting to determine the state tourney pairings, though it is certain Marion will play on Tuesday, March 6, at Wells Fargo Arena.
AT U.S. CELLULAR CENTER
DAVENPORT ASSUMPTION (49): Ray Kotula 0-2 0-0 0, Dylan Peeters 1-9 2-2 5, Anthony Valainis 2-5 0-1 4, Trent Fitzpatrick 3-8 1-2 9, Ray Thrapp 2-3 2-3 6, Sean Peeters 5-12 5-6 15, Landon Dugan 2-4 0-0 6, Logan Klemme 0-0 0-0 0, Daniel Powers 2-3 0-0 4. Totals 17-46 10-14 49.
MARION (55): Trevor Paulsen 3-7 7-8 13, Grant Meth 1-3 3-3 5, Alex Whalen 2-5 2-2 8, Jevin Manderscheid 1-1 1-2 3, Matthew Brase 1-1 0-0 3, Spencer Zielke 4-7 5-6 14, Jaffer Murphy 3-3 0-3 7, Connor Whalen 0-1 0-2 0, Mason Rahe 1-1 0-0 2. Totals 16-29 18-26 55.
Halftime — Marion 30, Assumption 22. 3-point goals — Assumption 5-15 (Kotula 0-1, D. Peeters 1-2, Fitzpatrick 2-6, Thrapp 0-1, Dugan 2-4, Powers 0-1), Marion 5-8 (Paulsen 0-1, A. Whalen 2-3, Brase 1-1, Zielke 1-2, Murphy 1-1). Rebounds — Assumption 27 (Valainis 8), Marion 23 (Paulsen 6). Total fouls — Assumption 18, Marion 13. Fouled out — None. Turnovers — Assumption 6, Marion 10.
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