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DES MOINES — Waverly-Shell Rock’s basketball team has learned to conquer the traps and battle the stars.

Coach Nate Steege’s tradition-rich Go-Hawks served notice Tuesday afternoon that they’re still a squad you can’t count out during March games inside Wells Fargo Arena.

With fluid ball movement and engaged defense, Waverly-Shell Rock revealed the confidence of a group that has recently put everything together during a 59-51 Class 3A state quarterfinal upset over No. 2 seed Mount Pleasant.

As a result, W-SR (19-6) advanced to the semifinal round for the second time in as many seasons. The Go-Hawks will meet Oskaloosa at 3:45 p.m. Thursday.

Unlike its previous six state tournament teams over the past seven seasons, this W-SR team doesn’t include the NCAA Division I star power Klint Carson or Austin Phyfe possessed before joining Northern Iowa’s basketball roster. It’s a group that does feature three battle-tested senior starters who seemingly do all the little things right.

“Of all the teams that have been down here, this is probably the one where people didn’t give them enough credit,” Steege said. “People are seeing that this team is made up of a bunch of really great guys who just want to play hard and win together.”

With a different starter having the potential to pop up as a leading scorer on any given night, W-SR’s unselfish offense neutralized Mount Pleasant’s frequent traps and full-court pressure. Each team had 11 turnovers, and the Go-Hawks made 20 of 33 field goals with 14 assists and 17 free throws.

Senior guard Jack Seward led W-SR’s balanced offense with 17 points, junior Luke Velky added 14 and senior Braden Holmquist finished with 11.

“You’ve just got to do it together,” Seward said of this year’s mantra. “One guy can’t be doing anything out of the ordinary. You’ve just got to come together as a team and really bond.”

Paced by a backcourt duo of Brady Sartorius and Jordan Magnani, Mount Pleasant led throughout much of the first half. Sartorius, a Kirkwood recruit, finished with 25 points and Magnani added 10, but they combined to shoot just 11 of 33 from the field.

It was W-SR’s offense that came to life in the second half as the Go-Hawks made 11 of 14 (78.6 percent) field goals. One of Jordan Downing’s five assists found Seward to cap a 10-2 go-ahead run for a 32-27 lead in the third quarter.

W-SR pushed its edge to as many as 10 on Velky’s layup midway through the fourth and continued to make the right decisions on offense to answer Mount Pleasant’s late baskets.

“It’s composure,” Seward said of his team’s resolve to avoid costly turnovers. “You’ve got to stay focused, stay slow. One of the hardest things is to slow down when they’re moving that fast.

“For us, it’s all five of us. ... We’ve got everyone. We just keep moving the ball until we get the best shot that we can, and that works for us.”

Steege says it wasn’t until over Christmas break before everything started to fall into place for this W-SR team that has now captured the state’s attention. Seward feels growth has come from teamwork and taking pride in the details like passing decisions, box-outs and free throws that often decide games.

“The whole game is discipline,” Seward added. “Early in the season we didn’t have a lot of that. We had guys doing their own thing, and now we’ve come together as a team.”

Wav.-S.R. 59, Mt. Pleasant 51

WAVERLY-SHELL ROCK (19-6) — Jack Seward 6-9 3-7 17, Braden Holmquist 2-2 7-8 11, Jordan Downing 0-0 2-4 2, Luke Velky 7-13 0-1 14, Mosai Newsom 3-6 3-4 9, Trey Angel 0-0 0-0 0, Jordan Gayer 0-0 0-0 0, Brandon Hinders 0-0 0-0 0, Carson Kallenberger 0-0 0-0 0, Will Dix 0-0 0-0 0, Brandon Zeien 0-0 0-0 0, Jedd Pauslen 0-0 0-0 0, Jacob Bahe 2-3 2-4 6. Totals 20-33 17-28 59.

MOUNT PLEASANT (21-4) — Colin Mulford 0-0 0-0 0, Brady Sartorius 8-21 6-7 25, Jordan Magnani 3-12 3-4 10, Jonathan Ita 0-2 3-4 3, Kieran Kohorst 1-1 1-1 3, Tucker Johnson 0-0 0-0 0, Maison Ashton 2-3 1-2 6, Rhett Zeglen 1-1 1-2 4. Totals 15-40 15-20 51.

Waverly-S.R. 9 11 16 23 — 59

Mt. Pleasant 13 10 10 18 — 51

3-point goals — W-SR 2-6 (Seward 2-4, Velky 0-2), Mount Pleasant 6-11 (Sartorius 3-5, Magnani 1-3, Ita 0-1, Ashton 1-1, Zeglen 1-1). Rebounds — WiSR 22 (Newsom 6), Mount Pleasant 23 (Ita 6). Assists — W-SR 14 (Downing 5), Mount Pleasant 8 (Sartorius, Magnani 2). Turnovers — W-SR 11 (Newsom 4), Mount Pleasant 11 (Sartorius 3). Blocks — W-SR 3 (three at 1), Mount Pleasant 0. Steals — W-SR 4 (four at 1), Mount Pleasant 7 (Magnani 3). Total fouls — W-SR 19, Mount Pleasant 22. Fouled out — Magnani.


Sports Reporter

Sports reporter for The Courier

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