Friday, February 28, 2020
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Jim Ecker, President & Editor

Metro Sports Report

J-Hawks escape and are off to state

CEDAR FALLS -- The collective "Phew" could be heard all the way back to the west side of Cedar Rapids Tuesday night.

The Jefferson boys basketball team is going back to the state tournament for the ninth time in school history.

Barely. Sparingly. Nervously.

It was eighth-ranked Jefferson 57, underdog Waterloo West 55 in the Class 4A substate finals at the McLeod Center on the University of Northern Iowa campus. And "Phew" doesn't begin to describe how the J-Hawks escaped.

Jefferson (17-5) will face third-ranked Des Moines Hoover (21-2) in the opening round of the state tournament on Wednesday, March 9 at 8:15 p.m. at the Wells Fargo Arena in Des Moines.

DiMarco Mallett missed a 3-pointer at the buzzer Tuesday night that would have given Waterloo West (9-15) an improbable trip to the state tournament with a losing record.

"We kept saying, 'Give ourselves a chance, Give ourselves a chance,' and we did," said Waterloo West Coach Justin Little. "We had a shot. It looked good to me and it just missed."

Jarrod Uthoff and his long arms bothered Mallett just enough on the final shot of this tense chess match. The J-Hawks whipped Waterloo West by 30 points in January at Waterloo West, but the Wahawks upset Cedar Falls in the substate semifinals last Friday and were hungry for more.

"It was kind of ripe for an upset," said Jefferson Coach Stu Ordman. "They had nothing to lose."

On the other hand, Jefferson had everything to lose.


Prime time Warriors headed to state

The Washington boys looked like a team primed for state tournament play as they cruised past Dubuque Hempstead 56-31 Tuesday night in a 4A substate final at the U.S. Cellular Center.

The Warriors completely throttled the Mustangs’ only real scoring threat. And once they got their own offensive motor running in the second half, the Warriors put the pedal to the metal.

“Coach (Brad) Metzger told us at halftime to keep putting the pressure on and to blow the game out,” said Washington senior sharpshooter Josh Oglesby.

“Then they opened the second half with a couple of 3s. That seemed to get us motivated. It really got us going and got me going, too.”

Oglesby led all scorers with 22 points, 18 of them coming in the second half. He hit five 3-point goals.

As usual, running mate Wes Washpun provided the rest of the Warrior offensive punch. He pitched in with 18 points on a variety of acrobatic moves, including a flurry one minute just before halftime when he had two jumpers on either side of a high-flying runaway dunk after a steal.


Wash, Linn-Mar familiar faces at girls state

It seems like you can't hold a girls state basketball tournament these days without inviting Linn-Mar or Washington -- or both.

This is one of those "both" years.

Linn-Mar qualified for the Class 4A state tournament in 2006, 2008, 2009, 2010 and again this year. Washington made it to Des Moines in 2005, 2006, 2007, 2008 and again this season.

This is the seventh straight year the Lions or Warriors -- or both -- have played in the state tournament. They've made a total of 10 trips to Des Moines during that span -- five trips apiece -- but ironically they've never played each other in Des Moines during that span.

That could change this week.

If Linn-Mar and Washington both win their opening-round games at the state tournament Wednesday, they'll clash in Friday's semifinals at noon at Wells Fargo Arena.

Getting to the semifinals won't be easy, however.


Two women, two daughters, one dream

Two women, seemingly not so much alike.

Julie Saddler, 47, is a doctor, an anesthesiologist who started medical school at the University of Iowa in her early 30s, long after first getting her college degree in business and working as an airline flight attendant.

She lives in a big, new home on the outskirts of Marion.

Sylvia Dawson, 48, is a civil servant, a senior clerk in the office of the Linn District Court criminal division who began working there 31 years ago right out of high school.

She lives more modestly in the Polk elementary school district in midtown Cedar Rapids.

They’ve both been divorced for a number of years. They’re small town girls, Julie from Anamosa  and Sylvia from Alburnett.

Bonded six years ago through their basketball playing daughters, both will be in the bleachers Wednesday morning at the Wells Fargo Arena in Des Moines for the girls state basketball tournament.

When the Washington Warriors play first, at 10 a.m. against Iowa City West, the two friends will be rooting for Sylvia’s daughter, Tia Dawson.

Then, when the Lions of Linn-Mar take the floor with Ankeny at 11:45 a.m., they’ll be clapping for Julie’s daughter, Kiah Stokes.

Two tall and slender girls, with much in common besides unique and similar-sounding first names.


Best birthday present? A trip to state

Kasey Semler got the only present he wanted for his 18th birthday Monday night at the U.S. Cellular Center.

He can thank Dusty Albaugh and the rest of his buddies on the Marion High School basketball team for giving him a trip to the Class 3A state tournament in Des Moines.

Albaugh popped in 21 points and Semler netted 15 as the Indians trimmed Benton Community, 48-44, in the Class 3A substate finals before several thousand fans in downtown Cedar Rapids.

Marion (17-7) will face No.1 Waverly-Shell Rock (24-0) in the first round of the Class 3A state tournament on Tuesday, March 8 at 3:30 p.m. at Wells Fargo Arena in Des Moines.

Marion is seeded eighth in the eight-team tournament and Waverly-Shell Rock is seeded No.1, but the Indians embraced the challenge of facing the favorite club.

"We'll be ready to go," vowed Albaugh, who popped in four 3-pointers. "We want to see the best. We want to match ourselves up with them. It will be a good game."

It certainly was a good birthday for Semler, who played in the 2009 state tournament as a sophomore and was itching for icing on his cake Monday night.


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