ELDRIDGE — A veteran North Scott team took a few early punches from a feisty young Kennedy team, but pulled away in the second half en route to a 54-37 win, advancing to Tuesday night’s substate final.
Kennedy coach Jon McKowen threw a bunch of different pressing looks and halfcourt traps at North Scott, but the Lancers did a great job handling the pressure and using their own outstanding defense to put the clamps on the Cougars.
Kennedy’s season ends at 14-9. The Cougars were led by Kenzie Reed, who had 14 points. Mekhi Harris chipped in 12 off the bench. Kennedy will bring back two of their top three scorers right year, led by standout forward Caleb Schlaak, so the Cougars should be strong again next season.
Kennedy: Kenzie Reed 14, Mekhi Harris 12, Caleb Schlaak 4, Braden Dolphin 3, Paul Cory 2, Brandtley Koske 2
North Scott: Ty Anderson 27, Sam Kilburg 16, Landon Eiland 7, Trent Allard 3, Cole Kilburg 1
Ty Anderson was as good as I’ve ever seen him
I’ve seen the future UNI forward play a bunch over his four seasons, but this was as good as I’ve ever seen him. The 6-7 lefty is incredibly athletic and skilled, and he was in constant attack mode, looking to take over this game from the beginning en route to 27 points, 14 rebounds and 5 assists. He handles the ball well, gets to the rim, has incredible body control around the rim and outstanding touch around the rim. If he’s playing at that level throughout the tournament, North Scott is as good a bet as any to win it all.
Kennedy’s 5-10 freshman guard has been pretty strong all year for the Cougars, coming into the night averaging 7.4 points and leading the team with 59 assists. A quick lead guard who sees the floor well, gets after it on the defensive end and is incredibly smart, he played perhaps his best game of his freshman season, going for 14 points on 5-12 shooting with 3 assists.
Dominant North Scott defense
The Lancers are always one of the best defensive teams in the state, and they showed why in this one. They’re so disciplined on that end of the floor, and they’re versatile with the ability to switch across the board. They held the Cougars to 5-33 from behind the arc, with their athleticism, length and disciplined defense contesting each shot. If the Lancers are going to win their second state title in the last six years, it’ll be because of the defensive effort.
North Scott free throw shooting is an issue
The Lancers aren’t a great free throw shooting team, but they aren’t awful either, coming in at 66.6%. But they were really bad in this one, going 8-27 from the charity stripe, missing 18 free throws in the fourth quarter alone. Kennedy wasn’t able to take advantage of that, but other teams will be able to.
Looking ahead to North Scott vs. Waterloo West substate final
Waterloo West has had one of the best seasons in school history this year, rolling to a 20-2 record, and winning games by an average of 18 points a game. The Wahawks are an incredibly athletic group that likes to apply constant on-ball pressure and push the tempo offensively. North Scott will look to play their usual, slower paced, defensive oriented game. And West struggled against Iowa City West (a 53-32 loss) in that style of game earlier this season. They did beat Cedar Falls 46-31 in a similar style game, so they have shown the ability to do so, but it’s not where they’re most comfortable. North Scott has the best player on the floor in Anderson, and if Kilburg can get some open looks, North Scott will win. Easier said than done against the West athleticism. Both of these teams should be playing in Des Moines, and it’s unfortunate they’ll meet in a substate final.