DES MOINES — He wasn’t 100-percent certain, but he didn’t think dad ever topped this point total. Surely, Braxton Bayless had to be right.
“I don’t think so,” the senior guard from Ankeny said, after an otherworldly individual performance helped his team topple Iowa City West, 68-54, Wednesday morning in a Class 4A state basketball tournament quarterfinal at Wells Fargo Arena. “This was my best. To have it come at Wells, too, is a dream.”
And the stereotypical nightmare for West. The son of former Iowa State guard Ron Bayless slashed, dodged, darted, drove and shot his way to 41 points in one of the best efforts you’ll see from a kid at the big-school level.
At any level.
He made 12 of his 20 field-goal attempts and 17 of 19 free throws. For giggles, he added a game-high 10 rebounds.
“Just keep playing,” he said. “We’ve got two more (games) now. That’s all I can worry about.”
“That was very frustrating,” said West’s Even Brauns. “He’s a really good player, really good player. We knew that coming in, tried to work on that as much as we could in practice. But it’s hard to (replicate) in practice. He does what he does, and I think we struggled trying to adjust to that.”
A Division I signee at Belmont University, Brauns finished his prep career with 27 points and 10 boards. But 15 of those came in the first quarter, with Ankeny (19-5) throwing multiple bodies at him in the post and slowing him down from there.
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West (21-3) couldn’t find anyone else to pick up the scoring slack. The Trojans went 12 minutes and 56 seconds between field goals in the second and third quarters, yet somehow managed a 43-43 tie early in the fourth quarter on Nicholas Pepin’s three-point play after an Ankeny turnover.
Of course, Bayless came right back down court and got a three-point play of his own off a drive to give his team the lead right back. West never got back even again.
“They were all trying,” said West Coach Steve Bergman. “I’ve said it all year, our guys were great, they worked hard all year every day. It was one of the best groups I’ve ever had. They overachieved all year. Not so much today, but I knew this was going to be a tough matchup because of (Bayless).”
Bergman said first-half foul trouble on junior guard Marcus Morgan played a role in Bayless going off. Morgan was the designed help defender in West’s man to man but didn’t play a lot of the first half.
“We know what happened,” Bergman said. “A guy who has to be on the floor 30 minutes didn’t play. We’ve just got to keep him on the floor. And then we had some kids that the moment was a little big for them. Every year you have that, right?
"That’s when it all kind of piled up. We were in foul trouble. They were in foul trouble, too, but their guys who were in foul trouble wasn’t my guy. My guy has to be out there.”
As Bergman mentioned, this West team overachieved. It wasn’t the most talented or deepest team that the Trojans have had in recent years yet still found a way to achieve a lot of success.
This was the 10th consecutive state tournament appearance for West, a state record.
“That was some of our drive, actually,” Pepin said. “What we lost last year, we wanted to build (off). We were a team last year, and we were a team this year, (but) I just think we had more chemistry this year.”
Ankeny 68, Iowa City West 54
AT DES MOINES
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ANKENY (68): Jaxon Smith 0-1 2-2 2, Braxton Bayless 12-20 17-19 41, Jordan Kumm 1-3 2-5 4, Brecken Manus 4-4 3-6 12, Nolan Otten 0-1 0-0 0, Ryan Crandall 1-2 4-4 6, Ron Mamuya 0-0 1-2 1, Braden Simonsen 1-1 0-0 2. Totals 19-32 29-38 68.
IOWA CITY WEST (54): Tate Crane 3-8 0-0 6, Joey Goodman 0-4 1-3 1, Nicholas Pepin 3-7 3-3 10, Marcus Morgan 3-8 1-2 8, Even Brauns 8-12 11-13 27, Christian Barnes 0-4 0-0 0, Charlie Moreland 0-0 0-0 0, Benjamin Vander Leest 1-6 0-0 2, Andrew Tauchen 0-0 0-0 0. Totals 18-49 16-21 54.
Halftime — Ankeny 36, Iowa City West 30. 3-point goals — Ankeny 1-4 (Bayless 0-3, Manus 1-1), Iowa City West 2-15 (Crane 0-1, Goodman 0-1, Pepin 1-3, Morgan 1-5, Barnes 0-3, Vander Leest 0-2). Rebounds — Ankeny 28 (Bayless 10), Iowa City West 25 (Brauns 10). Total fouls — Ankeny 23, Iowa City West 26. Fouled out — Otten, Pepin, Morgan. Assists — Ankeny 6 (Bayless, Manus 2), Iowa City West 9 (Vander Leest 3). Turnovers — Ankeny 11, Iowa City West 8.
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