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Sioux Center claims 2A championship
Ryan Bomgaars of Sioux Center gets both hands up as he defends against Wapsie Valley's Dustin Brinkman in Class 2A championship game. (Staff photo by Tim Hynds)

DES MOINES -- Mission accomplished.

Check off the last of those 10 lofty goals the Sioux Center basketball team captains established before the 2002-03 season got under way.

Number 10 was a state championship.

As of Friday night, the Warriors have it, roaring to a 47-22 halftime lead and turning back Wapsie Valley and Iowa's all-time scoring leader, Brooks McKowen, in a 74-60 Class 2A state title game victory at Veterans Auditorium.

In a game completed as this edition was going to press, Sioux Center finished off a 26-1 season with its 20th straight win, prevailing over a juggernaut that had swept past 27 previous foes by an average margin of nearly 35 points.

The only Sioux Center loss came in the first of two meetings this winter with Siouxland Conference rival Boyden-Hull, which won the Class 1A championship earlier Friday night, winning an All-Northwest Iowa final over Newell-Fonda, 49-35.

Never before, even with 40 state tournament teams in 19 years since Iowa went to a four-class state tournament, had two Sioux County teams won championships on the same night. It also the first double dip for the Siouxland Conference.

Hull Western Christian and Orange City Unity Christian both captured titles in 1996, but they came on separate nights.

In contrast to Wapsie Valley and its talented star, this was a Sioux Center outfit that spelled "team" with a capital "T."

In two previous games this week, the champs had no one score more than 13 points.

Again it was balanced as Chad Schuiteman tossed in 17 points, Andrew Hoogeveen added 16, Greg Smit 10 and Tyler Reichle 10.

McKowen, a Northern Iowa recruit, finished with 36, all but 10 in the second half, and ended his career with 2,829 while Nick Joyce added 19 for the runners-up.

Cary Cochran, a 1997 Neola Tri-Center graduate who went on to play for Nebraska, was the old state scoring king with 2,650 points. Before that, the mark belonged to Maple Valley's Todd Berkenpas, who finished with 2,536, graduating in 1981, two years before the three-point shot became part of the Iowa prep game.

Rebounding was again a key for a Sioux Center team that overwhelmed Council Bluffs St. Albert on the boards by a 36-18 margin in a 60-52 semifinal win on Thursday.

While McKowen was launching 15 first-half shots and connecting just three times (one of nine from three-point range), Sioux Center was converting 15 of 28 from the field and sinking 14 of 19 free throws.

Hoogeveen, hitting both of his three-point tries before the recess, had 12 points at the break, Schuiteman added 10 and Smit eight.

But these other Warriors, the Wapsie Valley Warriors, weren't convinced they were done.

McKowen scored 13 third-quarter points and Joyce nailed an NBA-range three-pointer that concluded a 23-8 run and pulled Wapsie within 10 points at 55-45.

Sophomore Michael Dickes, a Sioux Center supersub, fouled out just nine seconds later, with 1:19 left in the third quarter. However, Reichle, the point guard, drove the lane to score and Schuiteman converted Nick Roseland's low post feed just ahead of the buzzer to restore a 49-35 lead with eight minutes to play.

Reichle and Schuiteman, both juniors, also had some key buckets to help break it open once again in the final period.

It was the third state championship for Sioux Center, which has enjoyed 14 state tournament teams. The Warriors also won in 1959 and again in 1967, both under a two-class format (1959 was in the big-school division, 1967 in the smaller school class).

This was just the fifth trip to state for Wapsie Valley and the first since a third-place finish in 1996. But it was only one win short of a dream season for Brooks McKowen's dad, Marty, who is 350-101 in 20 seasons at the school.

Sioux Center's Arends, 117-25 in six seasons, ran his record to 116-25 and, like league rival Boyden-Hull Coach Bill Francis achieved the rare double of winning a championship as both a player and a coach. Arends was a senior starter in 1988 when Maurice-Orange City won the first of two straight crowns in what is now Class 2A.

Sioux Center will honor the 2A champs in a 2 p.m. welcome home celebration today at the high school gymnasium.

A more detailed account of the game, including the box score, will appear in Sunday's Siouxland editions.

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