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.Read more...