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Posted On: 11/29/17 9:46 AM
MOUNT PLEASANT — In a matchup between a pair of Class 3A powers, it was No. 1 Cedar Rapids Xavier who prevailed in the season opener, taking a 68-62 road win over No. 2 Mount Pleasant on Tuesday night.
The game got off to a bit of a sloppy start on both sides, but started to pick up in the second quarter, as the Saints used an 8-12 shooting performance to take a 30-24 lead into the locker rooms.
The second half saw more of the same, with Xavier eventually building a 50-37 lead early in the fourth quarter, before an onslaught came from the Panthers, led by star guard Brady Sartorius. Mount Pleasant went on a 15-4 run to cut the Xavier lead to 54-52 with about three minutes to play. Then the Xavier state tournament experience showed, as Jackson Joens calmly knocked down a corner 3 and Quinn Schulte got a layup off a steal. Back to a seven point game, and ball game essentially over. The Saints didn’t get rattled under the pressure of a huge comeback effort and a really loud gym, staying composed and making the big plays when they needed to take home an impressive road win.
Xavier (1-0) was led by Jackson Joens and Quinn Schulte, who each had 18 points to lead four in double figures. Matt Mims added 12 and Matt Ropp had 11 off the bench. Mount Pleasant (0-1) was led by senior star Brady Sartorius, who had a game-high 30 points, including 19 in the second half. Jordan Magnani was the only other Panther in double figures with 15. Xavier’s bench outscored Mount Pleasant’s 16-2 in the game, a major factor.
Cedar Rapids Xavier: Jackson Joens 18, Quinn Schulte 18, Matt Mims 12, Matt Ropp 11, Jake Beckmann 4, Gabe Lux 4, Davis Wagner 1
Mount Pleasant: Brady Sartorius 30, Jordan Magnani 15, Jonathan Ita 6, Kieran Kohorst 6, Colin Mulford 3, Maison Ashton 2
Can anyone in 3A beat Xavier?
The Panthers came close, but that was with a fantastic showing from Sartorius, and an off-game from Mims. Of course, nobody is unbeatable, but it’s going to take a big effort for someone in 3A to beat the Saints. They have players on their roster who don’t shy away from the big lights and make winning plays. They can fairly comfortably go at least seven deep, and they’ll eventually add a really talented freshman to the roster in Jaylon Moses, who is still recovering from an injury, which will add to their depth and talent. They’re beatable, but teams will need to play nearly perfect games, especially as we get later in the season and the new players get better acclimated to the varsity setting.
And if so, what’s the recipe?
If you’re going to beat the Saints, you’ll want to start with a point guard who doesn’t turn the ball over. With Mims and Schulte attacking the rim in transition, and Joens as deadly a shooter as there is in the state on the perimeter, Xavier can turn turnovers into points in a hurry. So first things first, protect the ball. Next, you’ll want to protect the rim against that penetration from Mims and Schulte. And finally, it’ll help if you can knock down some 3s. The 3-point line is the ultimate equalizer. Protect the ball, protect the rim, knock down 3s and you’ve got a chance.
Can Mount Pleasant get any production off their bench?
The Panthers have a really talented starting five, a group that plays really well together. But they need to get some sort of production off their bench if they want to be a state title team. Three players came off the bench in this game, and they combined to go 1-2 from the floor for two points and four rebounds. Meanwhile, Xavier got 16 points off their bench, with far less experienced players. Sartorius and Magnani are going to win Mount Pleasant lots of games, but a little bit of production from guys like Maison Ashton, Tucker Johnson and Rhett Zeglen would help out a lot.
Is there a way to quantify the state tournament experience of Mims, Joens and Schulte?
Probably not, but when you watch them play, it’s clearly an edge they have over their competition. As Mount Pleasant was making their run, that trio was calm and made winning plays. Mims took advantage of a gambling defense and had a few drives for layups (the four points during the 15-4 run). Joens calmly knocked down a corner 3 with a defender flying at him. Schulte jumped a passing lane and got a layup out of it. As other players were scrambling around, they were composed on the floor, and that’s something that comes with the experience of playing in high-level games. The biggest difference in this game was that the Saints’ have state champions on their roster (Mims and Joens each have two, Schulte won his first last year), and they looked unflappable.
How do you slow down Brady Sartorius?
Mount Pleasant’s star guard was tremendous, going 11-19 from the floor (including 4-5 from 3) en route to his 30 points. He’s as good a shooter as there is in the state off the dribble, with the ability to stop and elevate into his jumper on a dime, and he’s become a much more confident shooter from the arc as his high school career has progressed. If you leave him six inches of space, he’ll shoot it over you after a hard dribble. You have to make him give the ball up, then deny and don’t let him get it back. He’s a super talented scorer who is always going to get his points, but the more you make him play without the ball, the better.