116 3rd St SE
Cedar Rapids, Iowa 52401
DES MOINES — Just so you know, it was Alburnett, Belle Plaine and Don Bosco.
Those were the teams seeded ahead of Wapsie Valley's boys' basketball team. In its Class 1A district.
That the Warriors are playing for a Class 1A state championship is quite remarkable, about as remarkable as their play Wednesday afternoon in a 57-42 win over Montezuma in a semifinal at Wells Fargo Arena.
'We've been underdogs this whole season,' said Wapsie sophomore Gunner Meyer, whose game-high 17 points included the tournament's best dunk, a one-handed follow in the first half off a missed shot. 'We were ranked No. 4 in our district, came in here ranked No. 8 ... Our confidence is sky high.'
As it should be.
Wapsie (20-7), which plays in the 2A-heavy North Iowa Cedar League, took down top seed Lake Mills in Monday's quarterfinals, and then there was this game. The Warriors never trailed, getting back-to-back 3-pointers from Kobe Risse and Blayde Bellis to start and pulled away in the fourth quarter thanks in part to treys from Risse and Meyer.
Montezuma (24-3) immediately was on its heels.
'To be honest, we're not really used to (being behind),' said Montezuma's Trey Shearer. 'All season, we kind of jumped ahead of teams, and that's what we thrived on. Making them do the same thing we had to today, crawl back. It's difficult, and (today) showed it can be difficult. They played good defense, it was frustrating.'
Wapsie chose to faceguard leading scorers Shearer and Cole Watts, as well as freshman Masin Shearer (Trey's brother), leaving the 6-foot-4 Meyer and 6-7 Kiks Rosengarten to patrol the lane against the undersized Braves.
Trey Shearer finished with 16 points, but that's nine under his average. Watts had just three, 15 under his.
Brayden Arendt was the only Montezuma player in double figures with 12. The Braves shot just 34.7 percent, losing for the second consecutive year in the semifinals.
Montezuma plays West Fork in Thursday morning's 1A consolation.
'We settled at first, couldn't get our shots falling,' Arendt said. 'They took a lead right off the bat. We finally battled back into it, but then it just came down to our shots weren't falling. They played really good defense, and we just couldn't get the ball moving to where we wanted it to be.'
Wapsie plays Algona Garrigan (24-2) in Friday afternoon's championship game. The school has never won it all, placing second in 2003.
Well-liked hall of fame head coach Marty McKowen won his 595th career game here.
'I can't tell you how excited I am,' he said. 'As much for our community, as for our team. If you looked out there again today and saw that fan base, for a small 1A school to have that many people show up is so cool. To be able to do the things we are doing right now is so much fun. Our kids are enjoying it, as are our fans and the coaching staff.'
Wapsie Valley 57, Montezuma 42
AT DES MOINES
WAPSIE VALLEY (57): Blayde Bellis 3-11 1-2 9, Kobe Risse 3-5 7-7 14, Tyler Ott 1-4 0-1 3, Kiks Rosengarten 6-11 2-3 14, Gunner Meyer 6-7 2-3 17, Johnny Kerns 0-0 0-0 0, Dallas Wittenburg 0-0 0-0 0, Brody Stark 0-0 0-0 0, Andrew Westpfahl 0-3 0-0 0, Garrett Barnes 0-0 0-0 0, Casey O'Donnell 0-0 0-0 0, Parker Landsgard 0-0 0-0 0. Totals 19-41 12-16 57.
MONTEZUMA (42): Brayden Arendt 5-14 0-0 12, Masin Shearer 1-5 0-0 3, Cole Watts 1-4 0-0 3, Trey Shearer 7-18 1-1 16, Eddie Burgess 2-7 2-2 6, Brydon Henning 0-0 0-0 0, Joey Kercheval 0-0 0-0 0, Owen Cook 0-0 0-0 0, Gavin Strong 1-1 0-0 2, Brody Chidester 0-0 0-0 0. Totals 17-49 3-3 42.
Halftime — Wapsie Valley 26, Montezuma 23. 3-point goals — Wapsie Valley 7-17 (Bellis 2-6, Risse 1-2, Ott 1-2, Meyer 3-4, Westpfahl 0-3), Montezuma 5-23 (Arendt 2-9, M. Shearer 1-4, Watts 1-3, T. Shearer 1-6, Burgess 0-1). Rebounds — Wapsie Valley 29 (Rosengarten 10), Montezuma 26 (Burgess 10). Total fouls — Wapsie Valley 9, Montezuma 15. Fouled out — None. Assists — Wapsie Valley 10 (Risse 5), Montezuma 7 (Burgess 4). Turnovers — Wapsie Valley 7, Montezuma 8.
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