DES MOINES — With great depth, a future Division-I center and the No. 1 overall seed, Waverly-Shell Rock had good reason to believe it could win a Class 3A state title this year.
Unfortunately, the reigning 3A champion had other ideas.
Matthew Mims had 21 points and hit the go-ahead 3-pointer in overtime, lifting Cedar Rapids Xavier to a 47-41 semifinal win over the Go-Hawks in semifinal play Thursday.
Things started great in the extra period, when Austin Phyfe, who finished with 22 points and 11 rebounds, converted a three-point play on the first possession of overtime.
But those would be the last points the Go-Hawks would score, as they went 0 of 5 with two turnovers the rest of the way.
W-SR had a chance to tie the game with 14 seconds to play, when John Stensland got an open look at a three. But he rushed the shot, sending it way long and allowing the Saints to secure the rebound and close the game out at the foul line.
Shooting woes plagued the Go-Hawks all night, as they finished just 15 of 47 from the field. They hit only 2 of 14 3-point attempts and also failed to convert several open looks at the rim.
“We missed a bunch of layups early, missed a couple free throws here and there,” Coach Nate Steege said. “All those little things that add up in a one-possession game came back to bite us in the end.”
The game was a far cry for a Dec. 3 matchup between the two teams, when W-SR shot 56 percent from the field in a 76-54 win.
Considering the size of the stage, Steege said the officials allowed the game to be far more physical this time around, which had an impact on his club’s shooting.
“To be honest, when you play a regular season game, they call a lot of that stuff fouls. They weren’t fouls tonight,” he said. “Austin had two or three guys hanging on him the whole game.
“I’m not saying it wasn’t called same way both ways, but it was just more physical than normal and they were allowed to run their big, strong linebacker-type guys in there and keep Austin from getting where he wanted to go on the block and to keep us from running a lot of our offense.”
Knowing they had all the pieces needed to complete a state run made Thursday’s final all the more disappointing for the Go-Hawks.
“We had a sour taste last year and we just wanted to finally get back to this place,” Stensland, a senior guard, said. “We just wanted to play a good game like we usually have throughout the rest of the season. We just faced a good team and didn’t make shots.”
And while the ultimate prize is no longer obtainable, Go-Hawk players, especially their seniors, aren’t ready to throw in the towel on the season just yet.
“Luckily we get a chance to play in the consolation game and still to show what pride we have and still prove what we want to prove for our senior year,” Phyfe said. “And it’s always fun to still be able to end your career in Wells Fargo Arena.”
Waverly-Shell Rock will face either West Delaware in the consolation game at 12:05 p.m. Saturday.
Cedar Rapids Xavier 47, Waverly-Shell Rock 41
CEDAR RAPIDS XAVIER (15-11) — Matthew Mims 7 6-8 21, Nolan Butkhowski 2 4-6 8, Jackson Joens 4 5-6 14, Quinn Schulte 0 2-2 2, Max Techau 0 1-2 1, Gabe Lux 0 0-0 0, Max Johnson 0 0-0 0, Bryce Schule 0 1-4 1. Total 13 19-28 47
WAVERLY-SHELL ROCK (23-2) — John Stensland 1 1-2 3, Jackson Little 1 1-1 3, Luke Velky 2 0-0 4, Jacob Bahe 0 1-2 1, Austin Phyfe 8 4-6 22, Braden Holmquist 0 0-0 0, Jackson Seward 1 0-0 2, Joey McNally 0 0-0 0, Jordan Downing 0 0-0 0, Mosai Newson 2 2-2 6. Total 15 9-13 41
Cedar Rapids Xavier 8 6 16 8 9— 47
Waverly-Shell Rock 6 10 13 9 3 — 41
3-point goals—Cedar Rapids Xavier 2 (Mims 1, Joens 1), Waverly-Shell Rock 2 (Phyfe 2). Team fouls—Cedar Rapids Xavier 14, Waverly-Shell Rock 23. Fouled out—Techau.