Wednesday, May 04, 2016
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Jim Ecker, President & Editor

Xavier High School - Cedar Rapids, Iowa

Saints stun Wahlert for 3A title

DES MOINES - Their head coach was called for a dubious technical foul that forced him to sit in his chair for most of the game and only one of their players made the all-tournament team, but none of that matters now.

The Xavier Saints are the Class 3A state champions and they finally have a banner to hang in their gym alongside all the other state championship banners from all their other sports.

Ryan Luehrsmann had tears in his eyes when the final buzzer sounded in Xavier's stunning 62-57 victory over Dubuque Wahlert in the finals of the boys state basketball tournament Saturday night at Wells Fargo Arena.

Wahlert was seeking its third state title in a row, but the Saints found a way to slow down 6-foot-8 all-star Cordell Pemsl and shock the world.

"It's just a surreal moment," said Luehrsmann. "People tell you to savor it and enjoy the moment. That's what I'm trying to do right now.

"It's so emotional," he said. "You get connected with these kids."



Saints aiming for 3A state title

The Xavier Saints need to slow down Dubuque Wahlert star Cordell Pemsl on Saturday night to have a realistic chance of winning the Class 3A state basketball title.

If they cannot contain Pemsl, they might have to settle for second place.

The 10th-ranked Saints (18-8) face the second-ranked Golden Eagles (21-5) in the state finals at 6:05 p.m. Saturday at Wells Fargo Arena in Des Moines.

Pemsl, a 6-foot-8 beast, has led Wahlert to two straight 3A titles and will be aiming to finish his all-state career with another crown before heading to the University of Iowa.

He's one of the favorites for the Mr. Basketball Award this season and a third straight title might clinch the deal.

Pemsl destroyed the Saints in their only meeting this season on Feb. 18 in Dubuque. He made 15 of 19 shots, poured in 35 points and snared 11 rebounds in a 68-56 victory by the Golden Eagles in a Mississippi Valley Conference game.

"Wahlert is a heck of a team, is what we learned," Xavier coach Ryan Luehrsmann said. "We got humbled up there pretty good. They were clicking on all cylinders. It probably didn't help that it was Senior Night."

Last Updated on Friday, 11 March 2016 20:08



Wow! Saints top No. 1 Pella in thriller

DES MOINES - The amazing Xavier Saints have rewritten all the rules for making the state finals.

They lost six games in a row to end the regular season, suspended their top scorer for two games in the playoffs, built a 16-point lead in the fourth quarter against the No. 1 team in the state in the semifinals, got into severe foul trouble, saw the lead dwindle all the way to three points and still found a way to win.

"Wow!" was the first word out of Coach Ryan Luehrsmann's mouth at the post-game press conference Thursday night after the Saints reached the state finals for the first time in school history.

The 10th-ranked Saints stunned Pella, 70-65, in the semifinals of the Class 3A state tournament in a wild and crazy game at the Wells Fargo Arena in Des Moines.

Xavier (18-8) will face second-ranked Wahlert (21-5) in the state finals at 6:05 p.m. Saturday in a meeting of old friends and rivals from the Mississippi Valley Conference.

"We're real thrilled, just real thrilled with where our program is right now and the direction it's headed," Luehrsmann said. "We're surprised, and at the same time just thrilled to be in this position to be playing for a state title Saturday night."

Last Updated on Friday, 11 March 2016 06:04



Burger helps Saints topple Spirit Lake

DES MOINES - Mitchell Burger plays basketball like he's Jimmy Cagney in one of those old tough-guy movies from the 1930's, where Cagney struts around with a big chip on his shoulder and proves to the world that he's just as good as anybody.

That was Burger in his unusual role of super-sub in the Class 3A state basketball tournament Tuesday night, strutting around Wells Fargo Arena and acting like he didn't have a care in the world.

Burger returned from a two-game suspension and poured in 25 points as the 10th-ranked Xavier Saints stumped No. 3 Spirit Lake, 58-47, in the quarterfinals to keep their season alive for two more games.

The Saints (17-8) will face top-ranked Pella (23-1) in the semifinals at 8:15 p.m. Thursday, and win or lose they'll play again on Saturday.

Burger did not start against Spirit Lake, but he picked up right where he left off three games ago and sparked the Saints to a 29-19 lead at intermission. And on the defensive end, the Saints threw a blanket over 6-foot-10 center Ryan Kriener and kept the future Iowa Hawkeye under wraps most of the night.

Last Updated on Tuesday, 08 March 2016 21:52



Burger will play for Saints at state

Xavier guard Mitchell Burger has been reinstated to the team and has been cleared to play for the Saints in the Class 3A state basketball tournament Tuesday night at Wells Fargo Arena in Des Moines.

The 10th-ranked Saints (16-8) face third-ranked Spirit Lake (21-3) at 6:35 p.m.

Burger, who leads Xavier at 16.6 points per game, did not play in the last two games while serving a suspension for an unspecified violation.

Caoch Ryan Luehrsmann said Monday morning that Burger has been cleared and will be in uniform Tuesday night, but said Burger will not be in the starting lineup. He will come off the bench as a reserve.

"We plan to have him," Luehrsmann said.

The Saints will be facing a strong opponent in Spirit Lake, which features two star performers. Ryan Kriener, a 6-foot-10 senior who has signed with Iowa, averages 22.5 points and 12 rebounds. Billy Brown, a 6-3 guard, averages 22.1 points.

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