Prep Basketball

Xavier Ds up, rolls past Marion in boys' basketball substate opener

Saints move along in Class 3A postseason, end Indians' 8-game win streak

Xavier's Jack Lux (3) celebrates a timeout called by Marion after a scoring play during the second quarter of their Clas
Xavier's Jack Lux (3) celebrates a timeout called by Marion after a scoring play during the second quarter of their Class 3A substate opener at Marion High School in Marion on Monday, Feb. 22, 2021. (Andy Abeyta/The Gazette)

MARION — It wasn’t great offensively. But when you talk defense and rebounding, it definitely was great Monday night for Cedar Rapids Xavier’s boys’ basketball team.

As in survive-and-advance great.

The Saints completely shut down Marion and eased away in the second half for a 51-33 win in a Class 3A substate quarterfinal. Xavier (11-10) gets 10th-ranked Davenport Assumption in a 3A substate semifinal matchup Thursday night in the Quad Cities

It’s a battle of 3A schools from predominantly 4A conferences. Guard like this, and Xavier’s got a chance.

And then some.

“We played as a team, took good team shots, played defense,” said Xavier’s Sean Steffen. “Just find a way to win.”

Steffen had 15 points, hitting a slew of free throws in the fourth quarter to salt things away. Sophomore Aidan Yamilkoski had 16 points off the bench.

He’s Xavier’s leading scorer this season.

“I don’t really question my coach about that,” Yamilkoski said about not starting. “He does what’s best for the team.”

Yamilkoski hit 3-pointers at the end of the first and second quarters as Xavier took a 25-19 halftime lead. The Saints quickly built that edge to double figures in the third quarter, and that was pretty much all she wrote.

Marion shot just 24 percent from the field, including going 2 for 19 from beyond the arc. Xavier didn’t let Indians leading scorers Brayson Laube and Gage Franck do much.

Laube finished with eight points on 3-for-14 shooting. Franck had 10 points.

They came in averaging 28 points between them.

“I thought our defensive effort was fantastic,” Xavier Coach Mike Freeman said. “Brayson Laube is a great player, the Franck kid is a really good player. (Marion Coach) Pete (Messerli) does a great job with them. But I thought defensively we were locked into what our assignments were. Then when they shot it, we rebounded it. We didn’t give them second chances, and we were slowly able to extend the lead.”

Xavier outrebounded Marion, 43-29.

“We knew Laube was a good player,” Steffen said. “We had to stick to him, help off the other guys when they drove and dished.”

It was a disappointed and sudden end for Marion, which won eight in a row to close the regular season.

“We were 3-5 at the break and went 11-3 the rest of the way. Unfortunately the third one came early in the postseason,” Messerli said. “It stinks for it to end this way, It was just not our night. I’m thankful for the players and coaches on this team and everything they gave us this season, especially the seniors.”

C.R. XAVIER (51): Aidan McDermott 3-5 1-3 7, Jack Goldsmith 0-1 1-2 1, Max Kaiser 1-4 0-0 2, Jack Breitbach 0-6 0-0 0, Sean Steffen 3-10 7-8 15, Aidan Yamilkoski 6-11 1-2 16, Nick Kramer 0-2 2-2 2, Matthew Schmit 1-1 0-0 2, Brody Hoffman 1-1 2-3 4, Jack Lux 0-2 2-2 2. Totals 15-43 16-22 51.

MARION (33): Lucas Unsen 09-1 0-0 0, Garret Wagner 1-4 0-0 2, Gage Franck 4-12 2-4 10, Cael Hodges 3-7 2-2 8, Brayson Laube 3-14 1-2 8, Alex Mota 1-8 0-0 3, Jackson Kirsch 0-3 2-2 2, Boede Rahe 0-1 0-0 0, Ryan Paulsen 0-0 0-0 0. Totals 12-50 7-10 33.

Halftime — C.R. Xavier 25, Marion 19. 3-point goals — C.R. Xavier 5-22 (Kaiser 0-1, Breitbach 0-5, Steffen 2-8, Yamilkoski 3-6, Lux 0-2), Marion 2-19 (Franck 0-3, Hodges 0-2, Laube 1-7, Mota 1-5, Kirsch 0-2). Rebounds — C.R. Xavier 43 (McDermott 13), Marion 29 (Franck 9). Total fouls — C.R. Xavier 16, Marion 18. Fouled out — Mota. Turnovers — C.R. Xavier 15, Marion 9.

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