CEDAR FALLS — From the opening tip to the final horn, Friday’s Class 4A boys’ basketball substate semifinal between metro rivals Waterloo West and Cedar Falls had a strange feel to it.
The fifth-ranked and defending state champion Tigers (17-3) worked their way to a 47-42 victory and advanced to Tuesday’s substate final against Linn-Mar at the U.S. Cellular Center in Cedar Rapids. The Lions handed Cedar Falls one of its three losses three weeks ago, 66-62.
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“It boils down to just one of those rivalry games between Waterloo West and Cedar Falls,” Tigers coach Ryan Schultz said. “You know it is going to be a grind, and they (Wahawks) came out with a lot of different looks on defense and really slowed the game down. It took us out of our rhythm and I credit them for a great game plan.”
West (10-10) stifled Cedar Falls’ offense in the opening quarter while taking a 9-4 lead. The Tigers did the same to the Wahawks over the second period, outscoring West 12-3 for a 16-12 halftime lead. DaQuavion Walker’s long 3-pointer at the halftime buzzer accounted for the Wahawks’ points in the period.
“We came out a little tight and I don’t know if it was the fact it was a playoff game or more of what West did to us,” said Schultz. “They mixed things up so well, but our guys settled in and had a big run in the second.
“I thought our defense was outstanding tonight and when our shots wouldn’t fall the ‘D’ kept us in it. Our defense also made sure they did not get on an extended run, as well.”
The Tiger defense forced three straight turnovers and converted them into points during that second quarter turnaround.
“That has been our problem all year,” West coach Cliff Berinobis said. “We just did not take care of the ball and our guys that score a lot did not make plays. At the end of the day that’s it. We didn’t make plays.”
The Wahawks made a charge in the third with Isaiah Johnson nailing a trey and Antonio Alexander Jr., dropping in an inside layup for a 19-18 lead.
Senior guard Logan Wolf put the Tigers back in front with a short jumper, and Cedar Falls took a 24-21 edge into the final period. The lead grew to 37-27 in the fourth before another West charge.
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Walker snuck underneath for two, and Johnson came up with a big steal and bucket to cut the deficit to 38-34.
With the game still up for grabs, Cedar Falls junior Joshua Ollendieck popped in a 3-pointer and then helped ice the game by going 4-for-4 from the free throw line.
“It was a weird game at first,” said Ollendieck. “They have done that to us before, slowing it down, but tonight they really slowed it down. It was a little frustrating, but in situations like that, my dad has always told me to keep my head up and play the game.
“When we finally built a good lead in the fourth, we knew we had to stay confident. West is very capable of putting up points and we had to stay focused.”
Cedar Falls 47, West 42
WATERLOO WEST (10-10) — DaQuavion Walker 7 1-2 19, Mondre Lagow 0 0-0 0, Caleb Haag 2 0-0 4, Isaiah Johnson 2 0-0 5, Antonio Alexander Jr. 3 2-2 8, Jaden Keller 3 0-2 6, Mitch Fordyce 0 0-0 0, Amar Kuljuhovic 0 0-0 0, Michael Robinson Jr. 0 0-0 0. Totals 17 3-6 42.
CEDAR FALLS (17-3) — Josh Ollendieck 2 6-6 11, Logan Wolf 6 1-1 13, Mason Abbas 1 1-2 3, Jack Campbell 3 1-2 7, Chase Courbat 2 0-0 4, Ben Sernett 0 0-0 0, Jaxon Heth 0 0-0 0, Jackson Frericks 3 2-3 9. Totals 17 11-14 47.
Wat. West 9 3 9 21 — 42
Cedar Falls 4 12 8 23 — 47
3-point goals — West 5 (Walker 4, Johnson), Cedar Falls 2 (Frericks, Ollendieck). Total fouls — West 19, Cedar Falls 11. Fouled out—Keller.