Kvidera sparks comeback with buckets, energy

DES MOINES – North Tama senior center Skyler Kvidera had been waiting a long time to impact a Redhawk basketball game.

For the 6-foot-6 center, that time was Monday at the Iowa Boys State Basketball Tournament at Wells Fargo Arena.

The Redhawks trailed by 10 at halftime and needed a boost of energy. Kvidera plays with a ton of energy and his eight points and four rebounds played a huge role in the come-from-behind 47-45 win over Ankeny Christian Academy.

“He showed up today,” North Tama coach Brandon Clubb said of his backup post player. “He was very good today. It is a luxury to be able to throw out another 6-foot-6 guy. And he certainly responded the way we knew he could.”

Kvidera played a huge role for the Redhawks in the first 11 games, scoring in double figures five times, including two 16-point games and a 17-point effort.

But he missed the next 11 games due to academic troubles and didn’t really make an impact in the four previous playoff games.

That changed Monday as his name was called early and often.

“I tried to stay positive,” Kvidera said. “I try to get us pumped up even when we aren’t playing well. A lot of it is our coach though. He knows the game so well. He puts us in the right positions. We just have to execute the offense.”

North Tama senior starter Mitchell Boerm, the team’s leading scorer, knew Kvidera would make an impact at some point. He was happy to see it come in a state tournament game in which the Redhawks needed all the points they could get.

“He played really well, but he had been playing like that earlier in the year before he went out,” said the Central-bound Boerm, who finished with a game-high 19 points. “He does that in practice and is our energizer. He gets us going on and off the court. He deserved this performance.”

Ankeny Christian’s leading scorer coming into the game was 6-foot-6 Ben Taylor. The gameplan for the Redhawks was to put a lot of pressure on Taylor with their three bigs – Kvidera, Boerm and Nolan Hefty. Kvidera scored a couple buckets early in the third quarter and also drew a couple of fouls on Taylor, who had to leave the game in the third with four fouls.

“That was big because he is a big part of that team,” Clubb said of Taylor’s foul troubles. “We didn’t get the ball inside enough in the first half. We started pounding it in there in the second half and did what got us here.”

Kvidera’s eight points and four rebounds was by far his best performance of the postseason. He had a total of eight points in the previous four contests and went scoreless in the district and substate finals.

“He is a big dude, and we know he can make shots for us,” said North Tama guard Dalton Hulme. “He is a big part of our offense and he hit some big shots for us today. If we can bang down there inside, we know we can win. It’s big when those three guys are playing well.”

The Redhawks have been in some tough situations this year. They don’t seem to get rattled no matter how big the deficit is. Kvidera attributes that to a phrase used by Coach Clubb.

“Coach uses the phrase ‘play on,'” said Kvidera. “You just have to keep going, even when things aren’t going well. We can’t worry about things that don’t go right. We have to forget about it and move on.”

One thing the Redhawks will have to forget about before Thursday’s 12:15 p.m. semifinal game with defending champion Boyden-Hull is their inability to make free throws. North Tama made just 14-of-32 from the line and Kvidera was 4-for-10.

“That’s a tough question to answer,” Kvidera said about the missed free throws. “It was a fast paced game. Maybe we were a little fatigued. I am not sure. But we practice free throws all the time.”

Clubb said his team’s maturity came through in the end, but did not like how his team played in the first half and knows they will have to be better at the line in the semifinals.

“We didn’t come out the way we wanted to in that first half,” said Clubb, who guided the Redhawks to their first state tournament win in school history. “You have to survive and advance down here. That is what it is about. You win and move on.”