By Jon Gremmels
Herald Sports Editor
Entering the postseason on a two-game winning streak, the Prince of Peace Irish thought they had a little more momentum going their way midway through the second quarter.
With Nic Roth scoring five of the six points, they had trimmed an eight-point deficit to two. When they got the ball again with a chance to tie, Roth spotted Warren Lewis making a cut to the basket. He delivered the pass, Lewis shot and scored, was fouled and converted a three-point play to put Prince of Peace on top.
“We just started doing what we were supposed to be doing all year, and it finally clicked,” Roth said. “Then it just went away.”
Just about that quick.
Calamus-Wheatland called a timeout, and 10 seconds later, Justin Alden scored on the low block to give the Warriors the lead to stay, and they went on to beat Prince of Peace 63-48 on Monday night in a first-round Iowa Class 1A District 6 boys basketball game.
For the Irish (4-18), there was just too much Alden and Jake Janssen, literally and figuratively.
“It’s just hard to screen them out,” Roth said. “They’re big and they crash the boards, so we needed to all screen out. It didn’t happen most of the time.”
Irish coach Gerry Murphy said: “They wore us down. They’ve got a lot of big bodies. They’re a senior-dominated team. The physicality kind of wore us down, and you could tell that at the end of the second quarter. They were just more physical than we were. We weren’t up for that kind of game.”
Alden and Janssen combined for 35 points and dominated inside as Calamus-Wheatland took advantage of the shorter Irish and advanced to a Thursday night matchup at Preston. Alden, who at 6 feet, 4 inches is an inch taller than the tallest Irish player, led all scorers with 18 points. Janssen, a 6-8 senior, added 17.
“Our size and athleticism in the low post is what is ultimately going to win us games,” Alden said. “We’ve got four guys that can play inside the post. We have three guys who are athletic enough and can play guard and post. That’s really key when you have a bigger guy matched up with a guy that can do anything.”
Alden came up especially big after Lewis’ three-point play had given the Irish an 18-17 lead with 2 minutes, 5 seconds left in the second quarter. His basket from the low block with 1:51 left gave Cal-Wheat the lead it never lost. He followed his own miss and scored again about a minute later for 23-18 lead.
But his biggest basket of the quarter was still to come.
“If you need to step up, that’s when you step up,” Alden said. When your number’s called, that’s when you perform.
A basket by Roth (13 points) and two free throws by Lewis pulled Prince of Peace within 23-22, but Alden gave the Warriors (13-9) an extra boost heading into halftime when he got the ball on the block and scored his eighth point of the quarter with 2 seconds remaining.
“We switched our defense and we actually relaxed instead of being more aggressive,” Murphy said of Cal-Wheat’s late spurt in the half. “I think that set the tone for the rest of the game. Right there. Instead of us turning it on, we relaxed and they turned it on. That was the push, and they kept the push up in the second half, and we never recovered.”
Roth said the 25-22 deficit wasn’t that big of a concern, though.
“I thought we still had it,” he said. “It wasn’t that big of a lead. I still thought we had some momentum where we could come out strong.”
The Warriors went right back to work on the inside to open the third quarter, with Janssen scoring twice and then John Diercks (10 points) capping an opening 9-0 run with a 3-point basket that extended the lead to 34-22.
“We knew we had to come out and stomp on them,” Alden said. “We had to put a foot on their head and drown them. We’ve never been able to close out a game all year, and it was big because it was districts. It was go or go home.”
Then, the Warriors got their running game going, too.
“We got out and ran,” Janssen said. “I don’t think anyone can keep up with us if we get out and run.”
Quin Schnier, who led the Irish with 15 points, ended the run, but the Irish never got the momentum back.
CALAMUS-WHEATLAND 63, PRINCE OF PEACE 48
PRINCE OF PEACE — Schnier 4 7-8 15, LAufenbert0 3-4 3, Lewis 2 4-4 8, Kitteringham 3 1-2 7, Williams 1 0-2 2, Jankowski 0 0-0 0, Bly 0 0-0 0, Peters 0 0-0 0, Hessing 0 0-0 0, Roth 6 0-0 13. Totals 16 15-20 48.
CALAMUS-WHEATLAND — Houzenga 1 0-0 2, Patterson 0 0-0 0, Alden 8 1-4 18, Dierks 4 3-5 12, Bumann 0 2-2 2, Christensen 3 0-1 6, Kerr 2 0-0 4, Janssen 7 3-6 17, Looney 1 0-0 2. Totals 26 9-18 63.
Prince of Peace 5 17 12 14 — 48
Cal-Wheat 11 14 23 15 — 63
3-point goals — Prince of Peace 1 (Roth); Cal-Wheat 2 (Alden, Dierks). Total fouls — Prince of Peace 16, Cal-Wheat 17. Fouled out — None.