DES MOINES | There’s one last game for this bunch of Sheldon seniors to show Siouxland Conference pride.
Unfortunately, this all-senior starting five won’t play in the Class 2A state title game. Sheldon couldn’t overcome chilly 32 percent shooting and a double-digit deficit that began early in the second quarter and Cascade prevailed 65-43 in Wednesday night’s semifinal game at Wells Fargo Arena.
Ryan Van Marel, a 6-foot-5, 240-pound future South Dakota State defensive tackle, provided 13 points and eight rebounds for the eighth-ranked Orabs, which will take a 22-4 record into this afternoon’s 12:15 third-place game against No. 5 Aplington-Parkersburg (24-2).
“It’s the last time we’re going to play together as a group,” said Van Marel, who has shot 6 of 9 from the field in each of Sheldon’s two games this week. “We just have to play together and enjoy this last time.”
“It comes down to taking advantage of the opportunity,” said Sheldon Coach Eric Maassen. “There’s only so many teams that get to play. We get a chance to win our last game of the season, the last game for these seniors. It’s certainly disappointing not to be playing on Friday, but it gives this team an opportunity for one last game together again.”
Briar Cliff basketball recruit Kyle Boerhave added 11 points, six rebounds and four steals for Sheldon, which was bidding to reach the Class 2A state finals for the first time since 2013. Cascade (25-1) on the other hand, faces No. 1 Treynor (26-0) in Friday afternoon’s championship game.
Van Marel compared Cascade to Siouxland Conference champion Sioux Center, in terms of its shooting. Paced by Haris Hoffman’s 23 points, the Cougars shot 61.1 in the second half while stretching a 29-19 lead.
Seven players made at least one 3-point basket for a squad that converted 12 of 22 attempts from beyond the 3-point arc. Gannon O’Brien and Brock Simon each scored 13 points and each made 3 of 5 3-point tries for a team.
“When they’re shooting like that and challenging us with 3-pointers, it’s really tough to guard,” said Van Marel. “They’re spacing the floor well. They got a lot of rebounds inside.”
Just as impressive was Cascade’s defense. A squad that entered with a stingy 42.5 points per game average handcuffed the Orabs in the first half.
Van Marel was 6 of 9 in the first half, but his teammates combined for frigid 2 of 16 shooting, which included 1 of 10 3-point shooting.
“We wanted to take away their 3-point shooting,” said Hoffman. “They have a lot of really good shooters, all above 40 percent. We knew if we stopped that, we’d have a lot better chance to beat them. We play teams like Van Meter which has two 6-9 guys, so we knew kind of how to stop that. We knew we had to take the 3-point away first, then worry about the inside.”
“We got off to a slow start from the perimeter,” said Maassen. “You make two more of those (3s) in the first half, it’s a completely different game heading into halftime. Defensively, we gave up offensive rebounds early on that they were able to score on. We needed a way to get those boards. We’ve done that most of the year and tonight, unfortunately, we didn’t.”