MARION – Entering the third quarter, Cedar Rapids Xavier had built a comfortable lead over Marion in their Class 3A District 8 substate semifinal game.
The Saints had built a 31-18 halftime margin, but the Indians mounted an 11-2 run to start the third and were within four before Xavier Coach Ryan Luehrsmann called a timeout to circle the wagons.
“We knew they would make a run,” Luehrsmann said after his team outlasted Marion to advance to the Substate 4 final, 62-49. “Their kids are too good of players, shooters and competitors. I was really proud of our kids the way we kept our composure and eventually figure it out.”
And figure it out they did.
After the Indians pulled to within 33-29, the Saints finished the third quarter on a 14-4 run of their own, and put the game essentially out of reach.
Luehrsmann’s timeout gave the Xavier players a chance to regroup, and gave their coach a chance to remind them what got them to that point.
“Play intelligently, play with poise, but still be aggressive,” Luehrsmann said he told his players. “I think this group we’ve got, they learned a lot through what we did in the spring and over the summer, and certainly during the season. They have a very good understanding of how we want to approach an opponent and the way we want to play.”
Xavier also trotted out a much longer lineup to the floor last night, and used that to their advantage.
Players said it was something the team worked on in practice, knowing that was something they could exploit. While they were answering Marion’s run, the Saints’ guards abused the post and crashed the glass with effectiveness.
“We knew we could drive and post up against them,” said Calvin Winker, who had 20 points on 7 of 13 shooting for the Saints. “That’s what we worked on a lot this week, was posting up and getting it inside a lot.”
Marion Coach Mike Manderscheid was impressed with his team’s start to the second half – a charge led by Craig Engle, who led Marion with 12 points – but was equally as impressed with Xavier’s answer to his team’s run.
Foul trouble – and perhaps a little fatigue – were killer when coupled with Xavier’s size advantage, he said.
“They’re long. They’re very long and skilled,” Manderscheid said. “But I was proud of my kids. They didn’t back down and never gave up. They fought through some things.”
It’s also no secret Xavier entered the contest thoroughly battle-tested, having competed throughout the regular season against Class 4A competition.
But there are benefits and drawbacks to that, Luehrsmann said.
On one hand is the benefit of having played some of the best teams in the state in Dubuque Senior and Iowa City West. On the other is the unique matchups presented by a team like Marion, which made Xavier play a style they hadn’t all season.
“Basically, it turned into their style of game,” Luehrsmann said. “We’re comfortable playing either way. We’ve got enough guards, thankfully.
“I think we struggled with (the different style) particularly on the defensive end. We got a lot of fouls called on us tonight. In the MVC, they let (those calls) go, and maybe to a detriment. But a good basketball team is a good basketball team, no matter whether they’re 4A or 3A.”
That notion will be put to the test, now, in the substate final, as Xavier gets to travel to Epworth to play Class 3A No. 1 Dubuque Wahlert.
Wahlert beat Western Dubuque in its substate semifinal, 69-64, and Luehrsmann said it’s going to take a supreme effort to advance on to the state tournament.
Preparing for a team like that, he said, likely means a lack of sleep.
“Wahlert beat Iowa City West, and Iowa City West beat us by 20, so we’ve got to figure out a way to stay in the game,” Luehrsmann said. “(I’ll get) no sleep at all. I certainly know what coach (Tom) Davis and coach (Steve) Alford went through when I played for them now. You don’t rest this time of year.”
AT MARION, LINN-MAR HIGH SCHOOL
MARION (49): Quinn Cannoy 3-6 1-3 9, Daly Quinn 3-13 2-3 10, Craig Engle 5-14 1-2 12, Trevor Hardman 0-1 2-2 2, Derek Smith 2-4 0-0 4, Jacob Manderscheid 2-3 0-0 4, Devin Quinn 3-6 0-1 6, DeShaun Quinn 1-1 0-0 2, Jeremy Schnieders 0-0 0-0 0, Will Byers 0-0 0-0 0, Cody Alberts 0-0 0-0 0, Tyler Gaede 0-0 0-0 0. Totals 19-48 6-11 49.
CEDAR RAPIDS XAVIER (62): Adam McDermott 4-11 12-14 21, Mitchell Burger 6-7 3-4 16, Calvin Winker 7-13 6-6 20, Matt Nelson 0-1 0-0 0, Andrew Bisenius 1-4 0-1 2, Connor Ramlo 0-0 1-3 1, Frank Hill 1-2 0-0 2, Joe Welch 0-2 0-0 0, Matt Downey 0-0 0-0 0, AJ Brems 0-0 0-0 0, Blake Klostermann 0-0 0-0 0, Michael Biermann 0-0 0-0 0. Totals 19-40 22-28 62.
Halftime – Cedar Rapids Xavier 31, Marion 18. 3-point goals – Marion 5-16 (Daly Quinn 2-6, Engle 1-5, Cannoy 2-3, Smith 0-1, Manderscheid 0-1), Xavier 2-10 (McDermott 1-4, Burger 1-1, Hill 0-1, Winker 0-2, Welch 0-2).
Rebounds – Marion 19 (Devin Quinn 6, Cannoy 6), Xavier 26 (McDermott 8). Total fouls – Marion 20, Xavier 16. Fouled out – Manderscheid, Hardman (Marion). Turnovers – Marion 9, Xavier 8.