More than 13,000 fans – a tournament record – watched the Little Cyclones win their 53rd consecutive game. Northern Iowa recruit Doug McDermott had a game-high 21 points and Harrison Barnes (headed for North Carolina) scored 19 in a sometimes phlegmatic 47-37 defeat of their Central Iowa Metro League rival.
Ames (27-0) dispatched Sioux City East, 59-46, in the semifinals after defeating Cedar Rapids Washington, 57-44, in the opening round.
"After the past two games, there wasn’t that excitement," Ames coach Vance Downs told the Ames Tribune. "Maybe I shouldn’t say excitement, but that joy; it was almost relief."
Despite being held to a season-low 11 in the win over Sioux City East, Barnes had 59 points in the three games and was named overall tournament MVP. Teammates McDermott and Michael Weber were also named all-tournament.
Ames: Iowa’s best prep basketball team ever?
Such arguments can never really be settled, but consider the evidence: The Little Cyclones will finish the year ranked nationally in every major prep poll and are the first team in Iowa’s largest classification to repeat as state champion. This season, they defeated only two opponents by less than 10 points and embarrassed Illinois 4A power Waukegan by 28 points.
Ames’ top competition for "best team ever" – at least from the modern era – was Palmer, which won three consecutive Class A titles and a state-record 103 straight games between 1986 to 1988. Those teams also featured a pair of future Division I players in Troy Skinner (Iowa) and Brian Pearson (Iowa State).
McCabe leads Bishop Heelan to repeat 3A crown
Just as its girls team did last week, Bishop Heelan left Des Moines with the 3A championship trophy. Led by Iowa recruit Zach McCabe, the Crusaders (22-4) outscored Pella, 11-3, in the fourth quarter to win, 50-45. McCabe, who was named captain of the all-tournament team, had 16 points in the game and 55 for the tournament.
Western Christian ends Solon’s dreams of repeat
With a squad that featured five new starters, nobody expected Solon to reach this year’s 2A state final – even though the Spartans were the defending champions. But the unlikely run for a repeat ended when Western Christian (Hull) (25-3) beat Solon, 58-45, to capture its sixth state title in 25 years.
Rock Valley gets it done again in 1A
Although it was seeded just fourth in the bracket, astute observers weren’t the least bit surprised when Rock Valley won its second consecutive state title. The Rockets (26-2), who have two Division I-bound players, shot past Calamus-Wheatland, 68-51, in the 1A championship. Jordan Dykstra and Marcus Heemstra – both South Dakota State signees – scored 21 and 19 points, respectively.
More of the same: Omaha Central is king of Nebraska Class A hoops again
Only a handful of basketball programs in the country are enjoying as much postseason success lately as Omaha Central (23-4). The Eagles flew past Norfolk, 71-58, for their fourth Class A title in the last five years.
Those in attendance Saturday night at the Devaney Center were treated to dynamic performances from the senior-freshman combo of Deverell Biggs and Akoy Agau. Biggs, a 6-foot-1 guard, scored 19 points with four assists while Agua, a 6-7 post, dominated in the paint, finishing with 18 points, 15 rebounds and nine blocked shots.
Only one other team in the country that plays in its state’s largest classification can match Central’s recent state tournament history. Rhode Island’s Bishop Hendricken won its seventh consecutive title Sunday, but the comparison fades when you discover there are only 12 teams in that state’s entire Division I classification.
Gesell delivers as South Sioux City wins first Class B title
Saturday’s 60-56 overtime victory against top-seeded Skutt Catholic netted South Sioux City its first boys basketball state championship. But, with a wealth of young talent returning, the Cardinals might not wait long to win their second. Mike Gesell, one of the top-rated sophomore guards in the region, scored 29 points against Skutt and had 22 in a semifinals victory against Ralston. He captained the all-tournament team, on which he was joined by classmate Austin Groth, who averaged 20 points in three games.
Hastings St. Cecilia stymies Chadron to threepeat in C1
The combination of 6-foot-11 Minnesota recruit Elliott Eliason and 6-5 classmate Zac Bargen seemed too good to graduate without leading Chadron to a state championship. But, then again, Hastings St. Cecilia was just too determined to pass on the opportunity to win its third consecutive title. Hastings College football recruit and all-tournament captain Dalton Sealey stole the show in the Class C1 final, scoring 24 points and leading the Bluehawks past the Cardinals, 46-40. All-tournament members Eliason and Bargen finished their prep careers scoring 14 and 13 points, respectively.
Twice is nice for Ravenna in C2
All-tournament captain John Klosterman scored 16 points and sophomore teammate Connor Beranek had 19 as Revenna held off Archbishop Bergan, 57-51, in the Class C2 finale. It was the Bluejays’ second consecutive state title and third since 2005.
Freeman overpowers rest of D1 field
Northwest Missouri State-committed big man Kyle Schlake was a dominant force for Freeman, which concluded its first state championship run with a 52-38 blowout of Overton in the D1 final. Schlake had 19 points, 14 rebounds and six blocked shots and was named captain of the all-tournament team.
Ewing reigns in D2
The spectacular high school basketball career of Austin Kaczor ended with a flurry as the 6-4 senior scored 22 points in Ewing’s 41-33 defeat of Hampton for the Class D2 state championship. Kaczor, who captained the all-tournament squad, averaged 20 points per game. He has 2,205 points, good enough for eighth on the state’s all-time scoring list.
Des Moines-based Jamie DeMoney has covered high school sports and recruiting for more than 15 years. He is editor and founder of PrepNation.com. You can reach him at PrepNation@aol.com.