Redhawks rerouted: No. 6 North Tama knocked off course by defending champion Comets, 77-52

DES MOINES – The Redhawks found the start that evaded them Monday.

Though their quarterfinal time of rally became Thursday’s undoing.

Held without a field goal for five minutes in the third quarter, North Tama saw a one-point halftime deficit balloon to 14 in a 77-52 loss to defending champion Boyden-Hull in Class 1A semifinal action at the Iowa Boys State Basketball Tournament at Wells Fargo Arena.

“We lost our aggressiveness a little bit,” North Tama coach Brandon Clubb said of the third quarter, a reversal from their rally in Monday’s quarterfinal victory. “We lost some momentum there, the ball stopped going in and we missed some calls. They’re a tremendous defensive team. They played very good defense and it really came through in the second half.”

Mitchell Boerm brought the sixth-ranked Redhawks within 40-36 with 5:31 to play in the third, before the fourth-rated Comets locked in. Colin Bolkema’s corner 3 and a breakaway dunk from Brandt Van Roekel highlighted an 11-1 run to stretch the gap to 51-37, while forcing five North Tama turnovers during the span.

Jacob Wrage ended the drought with a baseline drive to trim the margin to 51-39 with 35 seconds left in the quarter, though the Redhawks (26-2) never got closer than 11 the rest of the way. After converting 14-of-25 field goals in the first half, North Tama shot just 9-for-23 in the second.

“Boyden-Hull is not going to beat themselves,” Clubb said of the Comets, who haven’t lost to a Class 1A foe since 2011. “We’re the ones who are going to have to take it at them and we didn’t do that in the second half like we needed to.”

Brent Billerbeck’s trey pulled the Redhawks within 53-42 early in the fourth, but the fourth-ranked Comets (24-3) responded with four quick points and made 13 of their last 17 free throws to close it out. Boyden-Hull made 22-of-29 from the line, while limiting North Tama to 1-for-7.

Van Roekel led the Comets’ balanced attack with 17 points and 13 rebounds. Bolkema scored 14 of his game-high 18 points in the second half, while Boyden-Hull shot 60 percent in the contest (24-for-40). Riley Francis added 16 points and Miguel Alvarado had 12 as the Comets stretched North Tama’s defense throughout.

“All five players can score the basketball evenly,” said Boerm. “They’re well-balanced all around. They didn’t have a weak guy.”

The Comets advance to face second-ranked St. Mary’s, Storm Lake (26-1) in the state championship tonight at 6:05 p.m. The Redhawks face top-ranked Danville (26-1) in the consolation game this morning at 10 a.m. The Bears suffered their first loss – a 61-55 defeat to St. Mary’s – in Thursday’s first semifinal.

Wrage led North Tama with 15 points, while Boerm added 12, Billerbeck nine and Dalton Hulme eight.

While the Redhawks’ 16-game win streak and state championship run are over, Clubb’s squad still has plenty to play for.

“(Friday) we definitely have to play with a chip on our shoulder,” Clubb said of today’s third-place consolation game. “We’ve got something to prove yet.”

Already earning the school’s first-ever state tournament berth and victory along with a program single season record for wins, the Redhawks are ready to add one more milestone to their historic year.

“We’ve got to keep our heads high and fight for third place,” Wrage said. “We can do something our school has never done before.”

Notebook

Neither team led by more than six in the first half as the lead changed hands eight times. … Traer resident Bruce Morrison was recognized as the “Fan of the Game” for North Tama before tip-off. … Boyden-Hull coach Bill Francis kept his defensive plan the same in the second half by forcing the Redhawks to beat them from outside. “We made an effort to make sure we kept them out of the lane and continue to make them make shots. We thought there would be a run coming and a time where they would miss two or three of them,” said Francis. … Danville (26-1) was the 2012 runner-up after losing last year’s championship game to Boyden-Hull. … Steven Soukup led the Bears with 35 points in their 61-55 semifinal loss to St. Mary’s.