116 3rd St SE
Cedar Rapids, Iowa 52401
CEDAR RAPIDS — Shock the world? Well, maybe not the world, but definitely the state.
That's the intent of Cedar Rapids Washington's boys' basketball team. The Warriors are underdogs with a capital 'U' in their Class 4A substate final game Tuesday night against top-ranked Cedar Falls.
No one expects Wash to even have a sliver of a chance against a Tigers team that is tall, talented, deep and undefeated at 18-0. Cedar Falls beat up the Warriors in the regular season, 86-61.
But in a one-off game, of sorts, sometimes you never know. A turnaround season overall and a come-from-behind win in the substate semifinals last week against Waterloo West have Washington thinking it can shock the world.
Or, again, at least the state.
'Obviously Friday night was a huge win for us,' Washington Coach Justin Decker said of a 54-51 win over West in which his team was down double digits most of the game. 'Us taking that next step. They're definitely not satisfied just to have a chance (to go to state), you know? We plan to go and compete. I think we have a pretty good gameplan, how we are going to do it. The guys have really bought in on the gameplan on trying to stop them. Hopefully we get off to a good start, and the gameplan can help us out and give us some momentum.'
Even if it doesn't work out the Warrior way Tuesday, there are a lot of positive vibes going on in this program. Washington went just 4-18 last season, with a unique combination of two senior starters and three sophomore starters producing the most wins since 2014-15.
Quincy Underwood is the team's leading scorer, and he'll head to Mount Mercy University next season to play. The sophomores are forward Traijan Sain, a potential Division I recruit, and guards Jesse Sellers and Jaden Harris.
Freshman guard Willie Hodges has normally been the first guy off the bench for Decker, and he also has significant upside.
'We had a pretty good team last year, too. We just lost a lot of close games,' Decker said. 'I graduated three starters who were pretty good players, but we've just found a way this year. Obviously our chemistry has been really good. Developing our young guys, and the older guys buying in. It can be tough for seniors when you've got younger guys who don't necessarily take your minutes but (play a lot). Guys have done a really good job of accepting their roles and stuff.'
Decker just chuckled when asked what makes this Cedar Falls team so good. The Tigers have four starters who average double figures in scoring, including 6-foot-9 center Chase Courbat and forward Landon Wolf, who have committed to play college hoops in town at the University of Northern Iowa.
'I've only been coaching high school for six years, but I coached 10 years in college, and they are just so deep, so big,' Decker said. 'They have multiple guys who are Division I guys. They share it, I've never seen a team that shares it as well as them. They are balanced, their size is huge.'
Tuesday's Class 3A substate finals
Mount Vernon (17-5) vs. No. 10 Davenport Assumption (17-6)
Time and site: 7 p.m., at Davenport North
Overview: Senior wing Keaton Kutcher averages 22.6 points and five rebounds per game for MV. The South Dakota signee is his school's all-time leading scorer. Senior forward Jayden Meeker (15.5 ppg) has been Mount Vernon's other primary scorer this season. Four of the five Mustangs losses have been to teams playing in substate finals, including 4A Cedar Rapids Washington and Cedar Rapids Kennedy ... Assumption lost five of its six games in a stretch of a little over two weeks when star guard Emarion Ellis was out with a broken finger. A transfer from Davenport Central, Ellis is a University of Texas signee who averages 16.8 points, 5.5 rebounds and 4.1 assists per game. Junior guard Noah Mack is Assumption's other double-digit scorer (12.8 ppg), and he, too, has missed a chunk of games this season ... Mount Vernon lost a 3A state tournament quarterfinal last year to Clear Creek Amana. The Mustangs have been to state five times, including championships in 1973 and 2012. Assumption has been a state qualifier 17 times, the last in 2013. The Knights won championships in 1982, 1999 and 2000.
No. 9 Clear Lake (21-2) vs. Humboldt (15-7) at Algona
Tuesday's Class 4A substate finals
Cedar Rapids Kennedy (15-7) vs. Johnston (9-4)
Time and site: 7 p.m., at Marshalltown
Overview: Kennedy has won 11 of 12 going into this game, the lone loss to top-ranked Cedar Falls. The Cougars' top guy is senior center Caleb Schlaak, who averages 17.9 points, 9.5 rebounds and 3.5 blocked shots per game. Sophomore guard Kenzie Reed came up big in a substate semifinal win over No. 9 Ottumwa, with a team-high 17 points. Senior forward Cole Hrubes (10.1 ppg) provides a dangerous 3-point shooter, especially in the corners ... Johnston did not play until January 5, thus the limited amount of games. Guards Reid Grant (13.1 ppg) and Trey Lewis (12.8) lead the Dragons in scoring, followed closely by forward Steven Kramer (12.0). The teams have common opponents in West Des Moines Dowling and Ames. Kennedy beat Dowling, while Johnston split a pair of games with it. Ames beat both Kennedy and Johnston ... Kennedy has made it to state 15 times, the last in 2017. The school won state championships in 1972 and 1984. Johnston's state tournament resume consists of nine appearances, the last in 2018, and back-to-back 3A titles in 1994 and 1995.
Cedar Rapids Washington (14-7) vs. No. 1 Cedar Falls (18-0)
Time and site: 7 p.m., at Waterloo East
Overview: Truly David versus Goliath here. Cedar Falls beat Washington in the regular season, 86-61. Its closest game has been a six-point win over Dubuque Hempstead. That's the only team that has come within single digits of the Tigers, a deep, talented and tall team that has four players who average double figures in scoring. The leader is senior Landon Wolf (17.4 ppg), who has committed to play college ball at home for Northern Iowa ... It has been a turnaround season for Washington, which went just 4-18 last season. The Warriors have a unique mix of two senior starters and three sophomore starters, with a freshman the first guy off the bench. Senior forward Quincy Underwood leads the team in scoring at 15.3 points and 7.5 rebounds per game. Sophomore forward Traijan Sain is a Division I college prospect who averages 12.3 points, 6.9 rebounds and 2.3 assists per game. ... Washington's last trip to state was in 2011. The Warriors have made 17 overall state tournament appearances, including a championship in 1969. CF has been on a run that included back-to-back state titles in 2018 and 2019 and a third-place finish last year. The Tigers have had 11 teams qualify for state overall.
Iowa City Liberty (7-5) vs. No. 5 Pleasant Valley (18-3)
Time and site: 7 p.m., at Bettendorf
Overview: COVID forced Liberty to begin the season late (all virtual learning) and take two two-week pauses during the season. Thus, only 12 games in the books. The Lightning lost five in a row, before beating Keokuk in the regular-season finale and Davenport North in a substate semifinal last week. Senior forward Kelby Telander leads the team with a 14.8 scoring average and 7.1 rebounding average. He is an invited walk-on to the University of Iowa football program. Ira Hazeltine (10.8 ppg) and Ethan O'Donnell (10.2) also score in double figures and are part of an experienced nucleus of players ... Pleasant Valley plays a methodical style in which it leads the state in defensive average (33.5 points per game). It averages just 46.0 points per game. The Spartans' substate semifinal win over Bettendorf was 21-19. Senior forward Jacob Townsend leads PV in scoring average (12.3), with junior guard Ryan Dolphin next at 10.7 ... As a new school that opened in 2017, Liberty has never been a state basketball tournament qualifier. PV has been to state five times, the last in 2016. The school has had two runner-up finishes, a third place and a fourth place.
No. 2 Waukee (12-2) vs. Ankeny (10-9) at Indianola
No. 3 Ames (16-3) vs. No. 8 Ankeny Centennial (14-4) at Des Moines East
No. 4 Council Bluffs Lincoln (18-4) vs. Southeast Polk (12-7) at Council Bluffs Jefferson
No. 5 West Des Moines Valley (16-4) vs. West Des Moines Dowling (11-8) at Dallas Center
Dubuque Senior (11-8) vs. North Scott (12-7) at Clinton
Comments: (319) 398-8259; firstname.lastname@example.org