Prep Basketball

Scenes from Tuesday at the boys' state tournament

A special Marion kid, a terrific Xavier player, an NBA influence

Marion’s JD Grawe (41) holds up his team’s participation trophy to his team’s fans after the Indians’ 67-60 Class 3A quarterfinal loss to Cedar Rapids Xavier Tuesday at the Iowa Boys’ State Basketball Tournament at Wells Fargo Arena in Des Moines. (Stephen Mally/The Gazette)
Marion’s JD Grawe (41) holds up his team’s participation trophy to his team’s fans after the Indians’ 67-60 Class 3A quarterfinal loss to Cedar Rapids Xavier Tuesday at the Iowa Boys’ State Basketball Tournament at Wells Fargo Arena in Des Moines. (Stephen Mally/The Gazette)

DES MOINES — So, thousands of us drove/rode through sleet and snow flurries Tuesday morning to get to Wells Fargo Center for the boys’ high school state basketball tournament. Here’s some of what I saw and heard in the daytime portion of the 7-game session:

This has to open things: With 13 seconds left in a Class 3A quarterfinal and Marion trailing Cedar Rapids Xavier 67-58, Marion Coach Mike Manderscheid inserted senior JD Grawe into the game.

Grawe got four shots at the basket in that time. He rebounded the first three, then scored just before time expired. It pleased everyone.

(To see video of the moment, click here.)

Grawe is autistic. He’s also a lot more than that.

“He’s a special-needs kid who has been out for basketball for four years,” Manderscheid said. “More than anybody, he bleeds red and gold.

“He wanted more than anybody to be down here. He’s been talking about coming here these four years. To put his name in the state record book, that’s pretty special to him.”

“He’s the one who motivates us to play hard,” said classmate Chase Zielke, who scored 14 points for the Indians. “ (Grawe’s basket) is a good memory to end on. It meant a lot for him.”


But this wasn’t a sentimental journey for Marion. It came here as the No. 8 seed with a 14-10 record. Manderscheid saw Grawe’s final seconds on the court as a metaphor for the way his team battled throughout the game and season.

“We came down here battle-tested,” the coach said. “The words I had for them were ‘prove it.’ Not to ourselves, but to anybody who wanted to know how an undersized team that hovered around .500 could come down here, how we would not fold after falling behind by 12 or 14 and make a run.

“JD, more than anybody, thought we could be down here this week. He, more than anybody, thought we’d be playing Thursday.”

“It was amazing,” Grawe said about the experience. “It may not have been the best outcome, but when we’re together it’s magic. It just felt really good to be out there one last time.

“Basketball was something to keep me out of trouble,” he said, though he admitted he probably wasn’t the kind to get in trouble, anyway. “Being around the guys, it’s been a big, positive thing for me.”

GIVE XAVIER’S TEAM CREDIT for stepping out of the way in those final seconds and letting Grawe get his chance at two points he’ll always remember.

Also, credit the Saints for staying calm after Marion cut a 28-20 halftime deficit to 30-29. They were led by senior point guard Matthew Mims, who scored 32 points in 31 minutes.

The 6-foot Mims is good, and South Dakota State got a good recruit in him. The Jackrabbits have become an excellent program under former Iowa State assistant coach T.J. Otzelberger, whose team was to play South Dakota Tuesday night in the Summit League championship game. “Otz” led the Jackrabbits to the NCAAs last year in his first season as their coach.

Mims, meanwhile, is trying to be on his third-straight state-championship team.


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“Every time you get down here it’s a pretty special moment,” Mims said. “Survive and advance.”

Thirty-two points (and three assists and two steals) will help that along nicely.

CASCADE WON THE DAY’S OPENER, beating Van Meter 60-47 in a 2A quarterfinal that tipped off at 9:30 a.m.

That’s early, for basketball. But they’re fitting this state tourney in a five-day window, and that means short nights for some teams. It meant an even-shorter one for Cascade students and fans who made the 175-mile trip to Des Moines Tuesday morning through less-than-ideal weather.

“It was worth it,” said Cascade student Quentin Recker, in a rare spectator role. He has played football, wrestled, and thrown the shot put for his school.

Recker and most of his school pals who made the trip turned around and went home after the game.

“But if we win (in Wednesday’s 8:15 p.m. semifinal against Sheldon), Recker said, “we’ll have a sleepover.”

Cascade player Derek Koppes had 14 points. He said the team had to be up at 6:30 for breakfast. Not a typical gameday, Koppes said, “but it felt like noon by the time we were playing. We were ready to go, all amped up.”

It showed. The sixth-seeded Cougars rolled to a 19-5 first-quarter lead. Things tightened up, but they pulled away again.

“I was kind of surprised with our seeding,” Koppes said. “We said to ourselves that it doesn’t really matter.

And it didn’t.


WHEN I WAS DRIVING from Cedar Rapids to Des Moines, I listened to some of Dan Le Batard’s ESPN Radio show. In one segment, Le Batard discussed how the NBA and basketball is preferred to millennials over the NFL and football. A big reason, he said, is the openness of the players, citing Kevin Love’s recent announcement that he suffers from panic attacks.

Well, I know this was a basketball event so basketball jerseys and garb would be more common in the crowd than football garb. However, it surprised me that so many NBA jerseys and shirts are worn. There were enough by Xavier and Marion students that school colors really weren’t much of a thing in the stands.

Boys and girls wore things representing at least 14 different current NBA franchises, and two Marion kids sported something from the defunct Seattle SuperSonics.

In the following game, however, nearly all of Glenwood’s kids all wore black. Except for the four boys who, for reasons I don’t know, were dressed like bananas.

THE STUFF KIDS YELL during games can be, well, juvenile. But some of it is funny.

I sat directly in front of Marion’s student section. “Why don’t you just have your butlers come here and cheer for you?” a Marion kid hollered in the direction of the Xavier student section. You know, public school, private school. Come on, it wasn’t mean.

When those kids were a little mean singling out a Xavier player early in the game, Marion Athletic Director (and coach of Marion’s newly minted 2018 state Class 4A girls’ basketball state-champions) Corby Laube told them not to direct comments at an individual.

“That’s fine,” a student politely told him, and those remarks ceased immediately.


Later, those same kids chanted “Thank you, seniors” at their players in the game’s final seconds.

THE MARQUEE EVENT of Tuesday from a media standpoint was Joe Wieskamp’s Muscatine team against Iowa City West in a 4A quarterfinal at 6:30 p.m. Wieskamp will play for Iowa next season, McCaffery the year after that.

I’ll have a column about that here at tonight. Y’all come back now, ya hear?

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