Marion turns all-Metro girls' state basketball matchup into a mismatch

Defending champs hammer Xavier in 4A quarterfinal, 70-35

DES MOINES — Tom Lilly shrugged and gave credit where it was due.

“They dismantled us in just about every aspect,” he said. “They were experienced in playing here, and it truly showed.”

Top-ranked, defending champion Marion looked the part of a team ready to repeat, whipping No. 14 Cedar Rapids Xavier, 70-35, in a Class 4A quarterfinal at the girls’ state basketball tournament Tuesday afternoon at Wells Fargo Arena.

“We’ve been here the last four years, and that’s a record for Marion,” sophomore Riley Wright said. “We’re comfortable here, we know what it takes, and we’re able to keep positive the whole time.”

There were reasons galore for that positivity. Start with defense.

The Indians (22-1) held Xavier (14-9) to 23.5-percent shooting from the floor (12 of 51).

Perhaps in an effort to protect his not-so-deep squad from foul trouble, Marion Coach Corby Laube instituted a zone defense.

“More zone than we’re used to, and more than we wanted to use,” he said.

Marion will face No. 4 Mason City (16-8) — a 55-49 winner over No. 5 Waverly-Shell Rock — in a semifinal at 5 p.m. Thursday.

The Indians are without Sophie Willette all week for undisclosed reasons, and Randi Wright (knee) didn’t practice since the regional final. So when Wright was whistled for her second foul and Xavier jumped to a 5-0 lead in the first minute, concern was warranted.

But then Kayba Laube hit a 3-pointer, Ella Van Weelden followed with another, and “we knew we were ready to go,” Kayba Laube said.


Marion built a 20-9 advantage by the end of the first quarter, holding the Saints to 1-of-14 shooting from the floor.

“You find yourself under the bright lights, and things start going poorly, and it’s like a tsunami,” said Lilly, who has coached Xavier to four state championships.

“It starts to overwhelm you, and things generally don’t get any better.”

Xavier junior Caitlynn Daniels said, “To beat a team like Marion, you have to bring your best. We didn’t, and you have to give them credit.”

Marion led 34-20 at halftime, then 45-24 after three quarters. The Indians closed it out by draining six 3-pointers in the final period.

Laube drained 6 of 9 floor shots — including 5 of 8 from long distance — and made all eight of her free throws in a 25-point outing.

“Every time a shot goes in, it’s such a good feeling,” she said.

Riley Wright added 15 points, Ella Van Weelden scored 10, and Randi Wright contributed eight points and eight rebounds.

Xavier’s lone senior, Emily Jasper registered 11 points and 13 rebounds.


4A State Quarterfinal, at Des Moines

C.R. XAVIER (35): Caitlynn Daniels 3-11 1-2 8, Aubrey Jones 1-7 0-4 2, Libby Arnold 2-9 2-2 7, Julia Shoger 0-5 0-0 0, Emily Jasper 3-9 5-6 11, Brielle Bastian 0-1 0-0 0, Bella Barretto 0-0 0, Aree Beckmann 2-7 0-0 5, Maya Karl 0-0 0-0 0, Sophie Schmitt 0-0 0-0 0, Mary Kate Moeder 1-2 0-0 2, Grace Ries 0-0 0-0 0. Totals 12-51 8-14 35.

MARION (70): Leah Van Weelden 2-5 0-0 6, Randi Wright 3-6 1-1 8, Riley Wright 6-9 3-6 15, Kayba Laube 6-9 8-8 25, Ella Van Weelden 4-6 0-0 10, Bri Fentress 0-0 0-0 0, Stacey Sloan 0-0 0-0 0, Jordyn Dunn 0-0 0-0 0, Sadie Struchen 1-6 0-0 3, Jo Hartke 0-0 0-0 0, Molly Dunne 0-0 0-0 0, Maddie Steffen 1-2 0-0 3, Peyton Steffen 0-1 0-0 0, Cloee Kraft 0-0 0-0 0, Madison Prier 0-0 0-0 0. Totals 23-43 12-15 70.


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Halftime: Marion 34, Xavier 20. 3-point goals: Xavier 3-10 (Daniels 1-4, Arnold 1-4, Beckmann 1-1, Moeder 0-1), Marion 12-24 (L. Van Weelden 2-4, Randi Wright 1-1, Laube 5-8, E. Van Weelden 2-4, Struchen 1-5, M. Steffen 1-1, P. Steffen 0-1). Team fouls: Xavier 14, Marion 10. Fouled out: none. Rebounds: Xavier 37 (Jasper 13), Marion 27 (Randi Wright 8). Assists: Xavier 5 (Daniels, Jones 2), Marion 10 (Laube 3). Steals: Xavier 5 (five with 1), Marion 8 (Randi Wright, Riley Wright, E. Van Weelden 2). Turnovers: Xavier 13, Marion 9.

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