116 3rd St SE
Cedar Rapids, Iowa 52401
WATERLOO — Call it patience, call it stalling. Call it desperate, call it deliberate. Whatever you want to call it, Cedar Rapids Washington's strategy Tuesday night was all about doing the opposite of its regular-season meeting with top-ranked and unbeaten Cedar Falls.
That was an 86-61 loss on Jan. 12. Warriors coach Justin Decker did not want to see an explosive Cedar Falls team averaging a Class 4A-best 75.9 points per game get nearly as many possessions in this substate final at Waterloo East.
Fewer possessions, similar result.
The Tigers (19-0), who won state championships in 2018 and 2019, booked their fourth straight trip to Wells Fargo Arena in Des Moines with a 57-28 victory.
The plan was apparent from the Warriors' first possession, when they worked the ball around to all corners of the half-court. But no gameplan alone is going to be enough against the Tigers, and that was quickly evident when Landon Wolf stepped out for a steal at the midcourt line. Fellow Northern Iowa commit Chase Courbat tipped in his transition miss at the other end for the game's first points.
'We were talking about it the last few days, if that was their plan,' Courbat said. 'We talked about ways we could speed them up. I thought we did a good job speeding them up a little bit so we could get possessions back on offense.'
It was only 6-2 Cedar Falls at the end of the first quarter and Washington tied it at the start of the second on a Jaden Harris 3-pointer and Traijan Sain free throw. But the Warriors (14-8) simply could not get clean looks against a long, disciplined Cedar Falls defense — no matter how many passes they made before a shot. They were 3-for-9 from the field in the first half and turned it over six times as the Tigers went to halftime with an 18-8 advantage.
'I thought first quarter, even going into halftime, it definitely bothered them,' Decker said. 'But then you can't do that for so long (without scoring).'
Cedar Falls scored the first nine points of the second half to go up 19 and never looked back.
'Hit and miss, right? As a coach, you try something different,' Decker said. 'I thought our guys bought in.'
An experienced, talented team had little trouble figuring it out. Wolf buried four 3-pointers and finished with 18 points after a quiet start. The 6-foot-9 Courbat matched him with 18 on 8-for-10 shooting. His presence inside, along with 6-8 Joe Knutson (eight points) and 6-6 Carter Janssen (six) wore down the Warriors.
'We just told our guys to be aggressive,' Cedar Falls Coach Ryan Schultz said. 'We wanted to dictate pace a little bit, too.'
Washington brings a lot of promise into the offseason after winning 10 more games this season than last. Quincy Underwood, the team's leading scorer Wednesday with 11, is the only starter graduating.
'We're trending up,' Decker said.
'(My takeaway) is how hard they want to be back, right now.'
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