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Back to the boys’ state basketball semifinals for Cedar Rapids Xavier
Saints beat Des Moines Hoover, 49-38, in Class 3A quarterfinals to get to final four for first time since they went four straight years from 2015 to 2018
DES MOINES — There was some yammering out there in the social media world when Class 3A state basketball tournament seeds and pairings were announced last week.
Not so much with the top seeds.
Bondurant-Farrar is the only unbeaten team in the class and was an obvious ‘1.’ Cedar Rapids Xavier and Marion were the next-highest ranked teams by the Iowa High School Athletic Association to qualify, so they were also a pretty obvious ‘2’ and ‘3.’
Where the disagreement/discontent really began was with Des Moines Hoover. The Huskies played a predominantly 4A schedule and looked uber good in three substate wins, especially the last two over a ranked Williamsburg team and a Waverly-Shell Rock team that was ranked some of this season.
The thought was, and definitely there was some legitimacy to it, was that Hoover was better than the ‘7’ seed it carried. And, to be honest, Xavier Coach Mike Freeman wasn’t overly pleased to see it, either, because that meant his Saints had to play Hoover in Tuesday night’s quarterfinals.
But as one of the oldest cliches go, you gotta beat the best to be the best, and Xavier played well, especially on the defensive end, to pick up a 49-38 victory. The Saints (19-6) are in the semifinals for the first time since 2018, when they got there for a fourth consecutive year.
The opponent is Sioux City Heelan (19-6), which vanquished Marion in Tuesday night’s first 3A quarterfinal.
“I thought we were playing another good team,” Freeman said. “We play in the Valley. I told the kids you might as well keep playing to the best. In order to win a state title, you have to play the best. I’m not trying to disrespect anyone here. Bondurant, Heelan, Newton, Marion, everybody is really good. We respect (Hoover). This is who we got, no excuses, that’s not what we’re built on. This is the job at hand, and we’re going to go do it.”
Hoover has one tremendous player in senior point guard Chase Henderson, and Xavier did a nice job defending the University of Montana signee. A very nice job.
⧉ Related article: Photos: Xavier heads to semifinals after defeating Hoover 49-38
Henderson could never get going, scoring 11 points on 4-for-10 shooting from the field. He was limited mightily by foul trouble, and he fouled out in the third quarter on a play in which he got matched up with 6-foot-8 Tyler Netolicky of Xavier after a defensive switch and reached around Netolicky for an apparent steal.
“We stuck to the game plan,” said Xavier’s Joe Bean. “I think we did awesome against him. We tried to contain him, keep him on one side. And we did that.”
Xavier D-ed it up the entire game, as the final score indicates. It needed to because the offensive end was rough at times for the Saints, which certainly some credit belongs to Hoover for its defensive chops.
Bean led Xavier with 15 points, with Aidan Yamilkoski adding 13. They’ve been this team’s one-two scoring punch most of the season.
Netolicky had an effective game on the interior with nine points and eight rebounds. Henderson and Elijah Vos led Hoover in scoring.
“We have great guys with great effort and great mindsets,” Yamilkoski said. “They want to win. They come to win, and they do.”
AT DES MOINES
DES MOINES HOOVER (38): Elijah Vos 5-11 0-0 11, Chase Henderson 4-10 3-5 11, Abe Vos 3-5 1-2 9, Mala Johnson-Bassey 1-3 0-2 3, Emmanuel Fandeh 2-3 0-2 4, Romare Talbert 0-4 0-0 0, Markese Harvey-Bell 0-1 0-0 0. Totals 15-37 4-11 38.
CEDAR RAPIDS XAVIER (49): Thomas Sundell 1-2 0-0 2, Josef Lemker 3-8 0-0 8, Aidan Yamilkoski 4-14 3-4 13, Joe Bean 7-12 0-1 15, Tyler Netolicky 4-9 1-4 9, Aidan McDermott 0-1 2-2 2, Dominic D’Amico 0-1 0-0 0, Michael Cunningham 0-0 0-0 0. Totals 19-47 6-11 49.
Halftime - Xavier 24, Hoover 17. 3-point goals - Hoover 4-14 (E. Vos 1-3, Henderson 0-3, A. Vos 2-2, Johnson-Bassey 1-3, Talbert 0-3), Xavier 5-19 (Sundell 0-1, Lemker 2-5, Yamilkoski 2-9, Bean 1-4). Rebounds - Hoover 26 (Henderson 5), Xavier 32 (Yamilkoski, Netolicky 8). Total fouls - Hoover 15, Xavier 13. Fouled out - Henderson. Assists - Hoover 3 (Harvey-Bell 2), Xavier 6 (Bean, McDermott 2). Turnovers - Hoover 12, Xavier 7.
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