DES MOINES | Things weren’t looking pretty for Grand View Christian when Issa Samake fouled out with 5:31 remaining in the fourth quarter of Thursday afternoon’s Class 1A state boys basketball tournament semifinal game.
A rail-thin 6-foot-7 native of the African country of Mali, Samake provided a big presence near the rim with 13 points, 15 rebounds, five blocked shots and three dunks. When he departed, third-ranked Remsen St. Mary’s had a four-point lead and stretched it to 48-40 on Derrick Schorg’s basket and a pair of free throws from Nicholas Ruden with 4:13 left.
However, Mach Nyaw’s 3-point basket launched a 19-5 run the rest of the way as the defending 1A champions stormed back for a 59-53 win. Remsen St. Mary’s, which was trying to avenge last year’s 45-36 semifinal defeat to the same school, now takes a 26-1 mark Thursday morning’s 10:30 third-place game against No. 6 Gilbertville Don Bosco (23-4).
“They outmatched us in the final few minutes there and we just couldn’t keep control of the ball and the tempo,” said Brody Ricke, who supplied 16 points, five rebounds and five assists. “We said we needed to go inside more when (Samake) was out, so we tried to do that. We did it a little bit and kind of got away from it at the end. We couldn’t take care of the ball.”
Ruden added 13 points and nine rebounds for the War Eagle Conference champions, which trailed 38-33 when the Thunder’s Grant DeMeulenaere (18 points) made a free throw to complete a four-point play after he was fouled by Spencer Schorg (10 points, 5 rebounds) when making a 3-point basket. Coach Scott Ruden’s team responded by going on a 15-2 tear over the game’s next five minutes.
Five Hawks scored in the spurt, but the Thunder forced five turnovers to finish the game.
Grand View Christian scored 10 points off turnovers, the last two coming when Nyaw (13 points) hit a layup after Glenn’s steal with 2:11 to take a 49-48 lead. DeMeulenaere may have missed 13 of 14 3-point tries in the contest, but contributed 6 of 6 free throw shooting down the stretch.
“We thought everything was going our way and we got (Samake) fouled out like we wanted to,” said Coach Ruden. “Two crucial turnovers, missed rebounds, they hit a couple of big shots and we left a guy open in the corner for a big 3 by mistake. All those little things will kill you. Normally, we don’t do that, but today it happened.”
Grand View Christian is 13-1 since adding Samake to its active roster on Jan. 12. He fouled out for the fourth time this season, but he has posted six double-doubles and recorded his fourth game of five or more blocked shots.
“I’ll tell you the truth, I don’t know if we were going to make it,” said Samake. “Coach brought our team together. We played as a team at the end. That’s what happened.”
Interestingly, Thursday’s third-place game will pit the two schools that met in last November’s 8-player football state title game. The Hawks fell 52-14 in that contest at the UNI-Dome.
“My seniors are taking this pretty tough,” said Coach Ruden. “I think they’re going to get re-organized quick. Don Bosco is a big game for us. We’d like to get one back. I’m sure the boys will be pumped.”