NORTH LIBERTY — When these teams met to begin the regular season way back in late November down near the Quad Cities, Cedar Rapids Prairie led most of the way before falling late.
Tuesday night in the postseason, the Hawks never led. So their great season is over.
North Scott scored the first six points of the game and never trailed in a very impressive 55-40 win over Prairie in a Class 4A substate final at Iowa City Liberty High School. The second-ranked Lancers (22-1) should be the top seed next week at the state tournament, though you never really know when eight coaches are the ones determining that stuff.
Regardless, this team is going to be incredibly difficult to beat if it plays like this. That much you can bank on.
“Tonight we just came out ready to go,” said North Scott point guard Cortavaious Seales. “We talked about in the locker room before the game that we had to throw the first punch. We’ve got to try and get that first one, and we’ve got to guard. We started out the game hitting shots, started out with that 6-0 lead ... That was big for us.”
Prairie (17-4) seemed to be the tighter team at the beginning, which shouldn’t be surprising considering the Hawks were seeking their first state tournament appearance since 1998 and North Scott was there last season and used to the kind of pressure substate games provide. The Lancers were outsized but used their quickness well, spreading the floor and having Seales and their other guys penetrate the lane.
Seales finished with a game-high 22 points.
Prairie did get settled in, using a 7-0 run to pull within 24-21 at halftime. Two Keegan Murray free throws opened the second half to make it a 24-23 game, but the Hawks got no closer.
“I thought our kids played really, really well for about 26 minutes,” said North Scott Coach Shamus Budde. “We went flat there that second quarter, they changed a lot of our shots at the rim ... We spent a lot of time watching film and trying to see what little advantage we could get after that first game. I thought we did that tonight.”
ARTICLE CONTINUES BELOW ADVERTISEMENT
Seales scored just nine points in the regular-season game, so this was a significant difference. So was North Scott being able to handle Keegan and Kris Murray.
Prairie’s leading scorers averaged a combined 40 points a game, had 43 in November but just 22 here on a combined 7-of-23 shooting from the field. Keegan was Prairie’s only double-digit scorer with 17.
The Hawks shot just 35 percent and went 3 for 25 from 3-point range.
“They kind of limited Kris and Keegan, and we needed someone else to step up and score,” said Prairie Coach Jeremy Rickertsen. “North Scott made it tough on us all night to score ... They helped off some of our guys more than they did the first time, so there were a lot fewer gaps and openings for Kris and Keegan, who everyone knows are our top two scorers and best players.”
Prairie won a Mississippi Valley Conference division championship this season and finished with its best record in years. That will take a little of the sting out of this loss.
Emphasis on “a little.”
“They’re great,” Rickertsen said of his players. “I just told them that every year when you end on a loss, you kind of go in (to the locker room) without words because as a coach, you think you’re going to win every game. I told them that in a strange way this year I’m at peace with what they’ve done for the program and what they have lifted it to. We can be proud of a lot of things this team accomplished this year. It stinks to lose, stinks to lose one game short of the state tournament.”
AT NORTH LIBERTY
CEDAR RAPIDS PRAIRIE (40): Harrison Cook 3-9 0-0 6, Gabe Burkle 1-1 1-1 3, Kris Murray 2-7 1-2 5, Keegan Murray 5-16 4-4 17, Logan Burg 1-4 1-2 3, Max Lampe 1-2 0-0 2, Garrett Pientok 2-4 0-0 4. Totals 15-43 7-9 40.
NORTH SCOTT (55): Reece Sommers 3-4 3-4 12, Tytan Anderson 2-4 4-4 8, Sam Kilburg 1-3 2-4 4, Carson Rollinger 2-8 5-7 9, Cortavaious Seales 7-13 8-13 22, Landon Eiland 0-0 0-0 0. Totals 15-32 22-32 55.
Halftime — North Scott 24, Prairie 21. 3-point goals — Prairie 3-25 (Cook 0-5, Kr. Murray 0-5, Ke. Murray 3-11, Burg 0-2, Pientok 0-2), North Scott 3-10 (Sommers 3-4, Kilburg 0-1, Rollinger 0-2, Seales 0-3). Rebounds — Prairie 21 (Cook, Ke. Murray, Pientok 4), North Scott 26 (Sommers 6). Total fouls — Prairie 20, North Scott 10. Fouled out — Burg. Turnovers — Prairie 7, North Scott 7.
l Comments: (319) 398-8259; firstname.lastname@example.org