Mt Pleasant News
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Wash Journal   Fairfield Ledger
Neighbors Growing Together | Jun 25, 2018

Panthers, Go-Hawks get set for battle

Mt. Pleasant’s speed, Waverly-Shell Rock’s size will be on display Tuesday
Mar 05, 2018
MPN file photo Panther big man Kieran Kohorst will look to contain a couple of towering Waverly-Shell Rock forwards in Mt. Pleasant’s first round game on Tuesday.

By Andy Krutsinger, Mt. Pleasant News

 

DES MOINES — We’re just one day away from first round action in the Class 3A boys’ basketball tournament. Second-seeded Mt. Pleasant and seventh-seeded Waverly-Shell Rock are gearing up for their quarterfinal match, and continuing to learn everything they can about each other before tip off.

Mt. Pleasant head coach Paul Rundquist spoke with The News at the “Meet the Players” day Saturday, looking ahead to the different challenges the Go-Hawks present.

“They’re huge,” Rundquist said, referencing a couple of 6’6” Go-Hawk posts. “Extremely physical guards (and) they play until the whistle blows. They’re a really good team, but that’s expected in the state tournament. They’re going to play us hard for a full 32 minutes and hopefully we’ll be prepared for what they throw at us.”

W-SR is led by a couple of guards, Luke Velkey (12.3 ppg) and Jack Seward (10.4 ppg), but a big concern comes from their next two scorers down the list. Both 6’6” post players, Mosai Newsom (8.7 ppg) and Jacob Bahe (7.8 ppg), are shooting over 50 percent form the field. They’re also two of the best rebounders in the field, with both players sporting over 110 rebounds this year.

By comparison, starting forwards Kieran Kohorst and Jonathan Ita will give up three-to-four inches to the Go-Hawk posts. Kohorst stands at 6’3” and Ita is 6’2”.

The Go-Hawks had three double-digit scorers in their substate win over Charles City. Velky had 10 points, Seward scored 12 and Bahe had 10 as the Go-Hawks put the Comets away 55-43 to punch yet another ticket to the state tournament.

W-SR has become a perennial state qualifier in Class 3A. The Go-Hawks have made the dance six times in the last seven years, including a state championship in 2013, the year they topped Mt. Pleasant in overtime during the quarterfinals.

Coach Rundquist says W-SR runs a similar offense to that of the 2013 state champions.

“(They run) very similar looks (and) similar sets,” Rundquist said. “What they do is, they execute that really well. It’s going to be a challenge for us with their height, and they do a good job sealing the post and getting it into the post. A team like that, that is focused on post touches, can be really hard to guard.”

The Go-Hawks, a top seed in 2017, placed third at the state tournament and took eventual state champion Cedar Rapids Xavier to overitme before falling by six.

The vast majority of points at the state tournament were scored by now graduated seniors, most notably current Northern Iowa post Austin Phyfe. During the Xavier game, Phyfe scored 22 points, over half of the Go-Hawks total.

Velky and Bahe both started all three games at the state tournament last year. Neither hit double-digits in any of the team’s three games. Bahe had eight in W-SR’s 58-45 quarterfinal win over Atlantic, and Velky had seven points of his own.

Mt. Pleasant had a rough shooting day in their 59-44 loss to Xavier in the 2017 quarterfinals, but point guard Brady Sartorius still had 19 points in the loss. He and the now graduated Tom O’Conner were the Panthers’ only two double-digit scorers.

Mt. Pleasant’s fast-paced style versus W-SR’s physical play will make for one of the most interesting first round matchups of the day on Tuesday, March 6. The game is scheduled to start at 2:45 p.m. On Saturday, Coach Rundquist stressed the importance of putting all their focus towards W-SR and not looking ahead to any other potential matchups.

“We want to win this first game and guarantee ourselves two more basketball games,” Rundquist said. “That’s our focus, because it’s over if we don’t take care of business.”

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