Friday, March 24, 2017
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Jim Ecker, President & Editor

Xavier High School - Cedar Rapids, Iowa

Saints march back to state tourney

Ryan "Louie" Luehrsmann had an audacious goal when he became the Xavier boys basketball coach five years ago.

He announced in 2012 that he wanted to see the Saints become a powerhouse in Class 3A basketball and make regular trips to the state tournament in Des Moines.

Mission accomplished.

The Saints earned a spot in the state tournament for the third straight year Monday night with a convincing 58-39 victory over Dubuque Wahlert in the Class 3A substate finals at the U.S. Cellular  Center.

Xavier finished third at the state tournament in 2015 and claimed the 3A state title last year by beating Wahlert in the championship game. Now they're headed  back to Des Moines next week for more.

"To do this three years in a row, it's a great accomplishment for our program," said Luehrsman. "We want to be the Cedar Rapids team that's a constant fixture that's down there regularly, and right now we're turning in the right direction.

"I'm really happy for this group," he said. "We fought through some challenges early in the year, but we stuck together and continued to  believe."

The Saints were a dismal 4-9 in late January, but they caught fire and have won 9 of their last 11 games.

Last Updated on Tuesday, 28 February 2017 06:03



Umthun named new A.D. at Xavier

Xavier High School has hired Andrew Umthun from Estherville Lincoln Central High School as its next activities director, the school announced Friday morning.

The Xavier Board of Education officially approved Umthun’s hiring Thursday.

Umthun will officially begin his new duties July 1. He succeeds Steven Lueck, who resigned as Xavier's A.D. in December after serving less than six months on the job.

Umthun, a native of Des Moines and 2001 graduate of Dowling Catholic, currently serves as the activities director, assistant principal and head football coach at Estherville Lincoln Central, positions he has held since 2014.

Prior to his administrative role, Umthun served on the Estherville Lincoln Central faculty as its Director of Alternative High School Program from 2013-2014. Before his time in Estherville, Umthun served as a faculty member at Bishop Heelan Catholic High School in Sioux City and was the school’s strength and conditioning director.

“We are excited to welcome Andy Umthun as Xavier’s activities director,” Xavier principal Tom Keating said in a news release. “Andy brings  experience as an outstanding teacher, coach and administrator, directing a successful 3A athletic, fine arts and co-curricular program.

"His Catholic school background as a student and educator will serve him well in his role at Xavier. We look forward to the energy and  vision he will bring to continue to provide our students with an  outstanding activities experience.”



Healthy Joens helps Saints top Mount Vernon

MOUNT VERNON - Welcome back, Jackson Joens.

The Xavier Saints were mighty glad to have you on their side again Thursday night when it really counted.

Joens returned to the lineup after missing two games with a concussion and played a key role as Xavier topped seventh-ranked Mount Vernon, 63-55, in the Class 3A district finals at Mount Vernon.

Joens popped in 19 points as the Saints (12-11) earned a spot against Dubuque Wahlert (7-15) in the substate finals Monday night at 6:30 at  the U.S. Cellular Center, with the winner advancing to the Class 3A  state tournament in Des Moines.

Joens suffered a concussion Feb. 14 when the Saints beat Wahlert, 71-52, and was idle for more than a week, but he finally got the green light to play again Wednesday.

"I got cleared yesterday," he said. "I went to our trainer to see if I could play and I was pretty happy, pretty excited.

"They had me do a concussion test. They asked me a bunch of words and a bunch of numbers and stuff."

He got all the answers right, but does not want to go through all of that again. "Not fun," he said.

Last Updated on Friday, 24 February 2017 06:01



Xavier's victory leaves Lilly in tears

Tom Lilly has won 522 games and four state titles during his 32 years as a girls basketball coach, but his emotional well still runs deep  after all that time.

Lilly dissolved in tears Tuesday night after the sixth-ranked Xavier  Saints trimmed 13th-ranked Waverly-Shell Rock, 42-38, in the regional  finals to earn a trip to the Class 4A state tournament.

Lilly hugged long-time assistant coach and pal Stephanie Potts after the buzzer sounded in the intense ballgame and he needed his trademark blue towel to wipe away the tears.

"It's always a special moment," Lilly said after getting his emotions  under control. "I just felt our seniors have given us so much this year.

"I knew that at the end of it, somebody was going to be extremely  disappointed because it was very hard-fought, it was back and forth, neither team was going to given an inch.

"And we just happened to prevail with a 14-year-old," he said with a  wry smile. That's pretty amazing on how that all works out."

Freshman Caitlynn Daniels is actually 15 now, but the rookie made two of the biggest plays in the game in the final minute with the state  berth on the line.



Xavier bowlers struggle at state meet

DES MOINES - Xavier High School bowlers Jacob Fulton and Tanya Zaugg  had a tough time in the Class 2A state tournament at Plaza Lanes in  Des Moines Tuesday.

Fulton, who had the top qualifying score for the state meet with a  strong 512 series, rolled games of 162 and 186 Tuesday for a 348  series and finished well out of the money. Alec Reseland of Urbandale  won the individual title with a 535 series.

Zaugg rolled games of 139 and 175 for a 314 series. Kaitlyn Moore of  Keokuk won the title at 470.


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