CEDAR RAPIDS — It still burns Matt Fitzpatrick, but it’s more of a good heat now.
The Davenport Assumption boys’ basketball coach was not shy about publicly criticizing the seed his team was awarded in its Class 3A substate. Coaches vote for them, and he felt the fix was in, so to speak, to make certain his Knights and Cedar Rapids Xavier had to meet before a substate final.
That Assumption ended up a No. 3 seed and had to play Thursday night at Xavier only increased his displeasure.
“You don’t have to be a rocket scientist to figure out that they (Xavier) started out our meeting as a 6 seed, then left the meeting as a 2 seed. We were going to play each other in the first or second round, and it had to be organized for that to happen,” the coach said, after his team survived this intensely played semifinal, 40-38, at Ron Thillen Gymnasium. ”We’ve used it as motivation. We talked to our team about it. It is what it is. It’s kind of a helpless feeling. But, like I said, you don’t have to be a rocket scientist to figure out that this was pretty intentional.”
Assumption (14-8) meets West Delaware (16-6) for a trip to the state tournament Monday night at the U.S. Cellular Center. Xavier’s bid for a fifth consecutive state tourney bid came up short.
The Saints ended their season 9-12.
“Just wasn’t meant to be,” said Xavier Coach Ryan Luehrsmann. “Kind of summarized the whole year for us. Close, but we just couldn’t get over the hump.”
Dylan Peeters is Assumption’s leading scorer, didn’t have a point in the first half but had an offensive flurry midway through the fourth quarter that put his team over the top, though just barely. His jump shot with 4:30 left gave the Knights a 35-28 lead, which felt more like a 77-point lead in this defensive battle.
Peeters finished with 12 points and 12 rebounds before fouling out. Sean Peeters, Assumption’s second-leading scorer, also fouled out, finishing with 10 points.
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A desperation full-court press got Xavier back in it, with a Davis Wagner driving hoop making it a 39-38 game with 8.8 seconds left. Assumption’s Anthony Valainis made the first half of a one-and-one with 6.1 to go, missed the second, with Xavier rebounding.
Quinn Schulte drove down floor and got off a pretty good look, a scoop shot in the lane that missed off the backboard at the buzzer.
“Throughout the season, we played a lot of close games in the MAC (Mississippi Athletic Conference), against Bettendorf and (North) Scott,” Dylan Peeters said. “Those games prepared us and showed our team has a lot of grit.”
“No one got into the flow,” Fitzpatrick said. “Just two groups of gritty kids fighting and scratching and clawing ... I’m really proud of my guys.”
Xavier surely lamented its shooting. The Saints shot 29.5 percent from the field and connected on just 8 of 15 free throws.
There’s your game. Jake Beckmann led Xavier with 11 points.
“Free-throw shooting has been an Achilles heel for us all year, particularly at critical times,” Luehrsmann said. “Our younger guys have to learn from that, put the time in the gym. It usually comes down to that. A few turnovers here and there, a few missed free throws. That was kind of the story of the night. They made enough free throws, made a couple of plays when they had to have them. We gave ourselves a chance.”
AT CEDAR RAPIDS XAVIER
DAVENPORT ASSUMPTION (40): Ray Kotula 2-7 0-0 5, Dylan Peeters 5-9 0-0 12, Sean Peeters 4-9 2-2 10, Anthony Valainis 2-4 1-2 5, Grayson Heiser 2-6 2-2 8, Logan Ehrecke 0-3 0-0 0, J.J. Stratman 0-0 0-1 0. Totals 15-38 5-7 40.
C.R. XAVIER (38): Matt Jordebrek 3-5 0-2 6, Davis Wagner 2-8 1-2 5, Quinn Schulte 2-4 0-0 5, Jake Beckmann 3-13 4-6 11, Bryson Bastian 1-3 1-2 4, Nick Hansel 1-5 0-1 2, Jaylon Moses 1-6 2-2 5, Tre McCrary 0-0 0-0 0. Totals 13-44 8-15 38.
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Halftime — Assumption 20, Xavier 20. 3-point goals — Assumption 5-14 (Kotula 1-2, D. Peeters 2-3, S. Peeters 0-1, Heiser 2-6, Ehrecke 0-2), Xavier 4-17 (Schulte 1-1, Beckmann 1-8, Bastian 1-3, Moses 1-5). Rebounds — Assumption 35 (D. Peeters 12), Xavier 23 (Jordebrek 9). Total fouls — Assumption 14, Xavier 13. Fouled out — D. Peeters, S. Peeters. Technical foul — Assumption bench. Turnovers — Assumption 13, Xavier 6.
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