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Friday, March 24, 2017
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Metro Sports Report

Saints earn date with No. 1 Waverly

DES MOINES - The Xavier Saints like being the underdog.

They relish it, embrace, thrive on it.

That's good, because the Saints will be big underdogs Thursday night when they face top-ranked Waverly-Shell Rock in the semifinals of the Class 3A state basketball tournament.

The Saints reached the semifinals Tuesday afternoon when they whipped fourth-ranked Mount Pleasant, 59-44, in the opening round at Wells  Fargo Arena in Des Moines.

Xavier (14-11) and Waverly-Shell Rock (23-1) will tangle Thursday at 6:35 p.m.

Waverly-Shell Rock dumped the Saints by 22 points, 76-54, when they met in Waverly in the second game of the season Dec. 3.

"We learned that they're really freaking good," Xavier Coach Ryan  Luehrsmann said when asked about the Go-Hawks. "They've got a big-time player in (Austin) Phyfe and a bunch of tough, competitive kids.

"We're just hoping that we can give them a good game on Thursday night. I think they're playing at a very high level right now."

Phyfe, a 6-foot-10 senior who has signed with Northern Iowa, is averaging 19 points and 13 rebounds for Waverly-Shell Rock and could be a load for Xavier. But the Saints faced an impressive big man last year when they defeated Cordell Pemsl and Dubuque Wahlert in the Class 3A state championship game, so they've been in this spot before.

"We have to send a lot of guys at him and not let him get comfortable and take away what he likes to do most," said Max Techau, a 6-foot-7 senior who will have the primary job of guarding Phyfe.

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King me! Kirkwood escapes NIACC

The defending national champions were in trouble Tuesday night in the  opening round of the regional tournament when Da'Rion King came came  to the rescue for the Kirkwood Eagles.

King muscled in 12 points during a key six-minute stretch late in the  game to help the 15th-ranked Eagles escape NIACC, 78-71, in a tense  ballgame at Johnson Hall.

Kirkwood (24-6) will host 19th-ranked Iowa Lakes (22-8) in the NJCAA  Division II regional semifinals Thursday at 7:30 p.m.

King, a 6-foot-6 sophomore from Racine, Wis., finished with 23 points  and 11 rebounds for the Eagles, doubling his season-long averages of  11.1 points and 5.6 boards.

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No. 1 Kirkwood women roll in regional

Deleyah Harris scored 20 points Tuesday night as the top-ranked Kirkwood women's basketball team defeated Ellsworth, 72-48, in the  quarterfinals of the regional tournament at Johnson Hall.

Kirkwood (31-0) will host Southwestern (17-14) in the regional semifinals Thursday at 5:30 p.m.

Simone Goods collected 16 points and eight rebounds for the Eagles. Olivia Usher finished with 10 points, five rebounds and five assists.  Rylee Voss provided eight points and eight rebounds off the bench.

Antoinette Williams scored 13 points for Ellsworth.

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No. 1 Eagles roll into tourney at 30-0

ESTHERVILLE - Simone Goods scored 25 points and grabbed 13 rebounds Saturday as the top-ranked Kirkwood women's basketball team rolled by Iowa Lakes, 98-59, in the final game of the regular season.

The Eagles raised their records to 30-0 overall and 12-0 in the ICCAC conference.

Coach Kim Muhl has won six national titles at Kirkwood, but this is  the first time the Eagles have ever finished the regular season with an undefeated record.

Kirkwood will host Ellsworth in the quarterfinals of the regional  tournament Tuesday at 5:30. The Kirkwood men will face NIACC in the second game Tuesday at 7:30 in their regional tournament.

Megan Axcell scored 15 points Saturday and Olivia Usher had 14.  Deleyah Harris provided 11 points and seven rebounds. TiRayah Cotton scored 10 points.

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Sad day for Saints at state tourney

DES MOINES - There were 42 seconds left in Xavier's loss to North  Scott in the Class 4A state basketball tournament Friday morning when  Coach Tom Lilly sent seldom-used senior Lauren Cooling into the game.

The Saints trailed by only seven points at the time and Lilly could  have kept his starters on the floor and prayed for a miracle, but he  wanted to make sure Cooling got into the game for a taste of the state  meet.

Lauren Cooling's mother, Sue, died Wednesday from cancer. She was only  54 years old.

Two days later, Lauren took the floor for the semifinals of the state  tournament at Wells Fargo Arena and there wasn't a dry eye among the  Xavier players, coaches and fans.

"At some point in time you recognize the situation and that basketball  is not the most important thing at that moment in time," said Lilly,  who has won 523 games and four state titles in his career.

"Nobody on our team would have argued with the fact that she needed to  see the court at some point in time."

The sixth-ranked Saints fell to eighth-ranked North Scott, 58-49,  mostly because they committed too many turnovers, committed too many  fouls and could not keep the Lancers off the offensive backboard.

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