The thing about the basketball postseason is you don’t have much time to feel good about a big win because there’s another huge game right around the corner.
That was the message Blake Moen sent to his South Winneshiek Warriors after they upset defending state champion Wapsie Valley in a Class 1A district semifinal last Thursday. Boys, be proud of yourselves, but come ready to get right back after it tomorrow.
South Winneshiek (16-6) plays Edgewood-Colesburg (17-5) in a district final Tuesday at Elkader.
“One of the things we told the guys was after a big win like that, it was great to be with parents and celebrate that night, but we did tell them the next day that we have to get ready for Ed-Co,” Moen said. “We have a lot of respect for Ed-Co and Coach (Justin) Olind. They went to state three years ago, and they are a really good caliber team.
“We told our guys that we have four days to prepare, but we need all four days to make sure we are prepared. That was kind of the big thing we told them after that game.”
Wapsie Valley (17-5) was District 6’s top seed and seemed to be in good enough form to have a serious shot at a repeat. The Warriors blew out to a 16-7 lead after a quarter, but South Winn regrouped, cut its deficit to three at halftime, to two after three quarters and took over in the fourth.
Guard Jacob Herold was huge with 29 points, but Moen said forward Collin Wiltgen’s three buckets in the fourth, including a pair of 3-pointers, were telltale. Wiltgen finished with 15 points in the game.
“Going in, I think the biggest thing was that we believed in one another,” Moen said. “The kids really believed in themselves and felt like if we played the style of basketball to our capability, we really felt like we had a chance. We just kept that belief, and when the final horn went off, we were really excited about it.”
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A lot of these kids were on a very good South Winneshiek football team this past fall and a state tournament baseball team last summer, so that multi-sport success has carried over. South Winn finished just behind North Fayette Valley for first place in the Upper Iowa Conference.
Guys like Herold (four years), Cael Kuboushek (three years) and 6-foot-7 junior center Trey Kriener (three years) have multiple years of varsity hoops experience, and that’s important.
“Probably the last quarter of the season, we won some close games that came right down to the wire,” Moen said. “I think having a lot of experience, a lot of seniors, has helped us pull ahead in some of those games, including the Wapsie game ... That really helped us not get too frazzled and just coming through with big shots.”
Other Class 1A district finals Tuesday include top-ranked North Linn (23-0) against Alburnett (13-10) at Vinton, eighth-ranked Springville (22-2) against New London (18-4) at West Liberty, Meskwaki Settlement School (19-3) against Grundy Center (16-5) at State Center, Maqouketa Valley (12-11) against Gladbrook-Reinbeck (16-3) at Independence and ninth-ranked Keota (20-2) against No. 6 Montezuma (20-2) at Williamsburg.
In 2A, ninth-ranked West Branch (18-2) plays Anamosa (14-6) at Goose Lake, Mid-Prairie (15-7) plays Camanche (16-6) at West Liberty and Waukon (15-5) plays Dyersville Beckman (14-7) at Manchester.
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