DES MOINES – West Marshall wanted to run when they had the opportunity.
Though with the way West Fork shot the ball, those chances came few and far between.
Shooting 12-of-16 in the second half and 60 percent overall, the Warhawks limited the Trojans transition largely by making buckets and committing only six turnovers.
Sam Amsbaugh poured in a game-high 26 points, going 10-of-14 from the field, as third-ranked West Fork built a double-digit lead in the third quarter and made its free throws late to pull away for a 71-54 victory over West Marshall Tuesday in a Class 2A quarterfinal of the Iowa Boys Basketball State Tournament at Wells Fargo Arena.
Amsbaugh added six rebounds, five steals, four assists and two blocks as the Warhawks claimed their 14th straight win and advance to play No. 5 Treynor (24-1) in a semifinal Thursday at 3:45 p.m.
“We really wanted to start running on them because we thought that was an advantage for us,” West Marshall coach Paul deNeui said. “It was working for a while but then they did a good job of slowing it back down again. They did a good job of taking us out of our gameplan.”
West Marshall (20-5) got in the open floor with a 10-2 surge to secure its largest lead at 14-10 late in the first quarter. Reggie Gradwell buried a trey and Duncan Ferch grabbed a steal and flipped the ball over his head to Elijah Streeter for a layup before Gradwell connected again from deep with 1:35 to go in the opening frame.
The Trojans never found the same running lanes the rest of the day.
“They got back quicker,” Ferch said. “Their guards started to get back – they weren’t rebounding it as heavily, but they didn’t miss that much either so it’s hard to get out and push when they make shots.”
West Fork (24-1) milked the final 50 seconds of the first quarter before Hunter Myers hit a late 3 to give the Warhawks a 15-14 edge, and a lead they wouldn’t relinquish.
West Marshall earned a 16-8 first-half advantage on the boards, though the Warhawks held a 28-24 cushion with just one turnover at halftime.
“Their tall guys are quick, quicker than most of the post guys that we’ve played this year. They outquicked us on some rebounds and I think that’s how they were able to stay in the ballgame,” Warhawks coach Frank Schnoes said. “In the second half we forced them to go man-to-man. We did a good job of executing, especially in the fourth quarter when they want back from zone to man. We ran a secondary offense and that was able to get us some good looks and good shots at the basket.”
Spencer Halloran and Austin Neff bookended a 10-4 surge with 3-pointers to open the third as the Warhawks widened the gap to 48-38. Ferch’s three-point play closed the deficit to six and he added a bank shot to keep his team within striking range at 46-39 entering the final frame.
West Fork pushed its lead back to double-digits and never let West Marshall get closer than six. Matt Van Metre split a pair at the line to trim the margin to 58-52 and Ferch added a jumper to make it 61-54 with 2:28 left. West Fork sealed it by making eight of its next nine from the stripe.
Evan Sprung scored 12 of his 13 points in the second half and Halloran had 10 with three steals. Myers scored nine and Drew Engebretson chipped in eight as West Fork made 17 of its 21 free throws after halftime and finished 20-of-27 overall for its 14th straight win.
Gradwell paced West Marshall with 21 points on 8-of-11 shooting, while Ferch added 17 points, six rebounds and five assists. Van Metre tallied eight points and six rebounds for West Marshall, while Streeter and Trenton Keislar scored four apiece.
The Trojans switched to a zone early as Amsbaugh scored three quick buckets to give the Warhawks an 8-2 lead. Amsbaugh had 10 in the first quarter and was one of six different players to score in the second, while West Fork also kept the Trojans out of transition.
“They slowed the tempo down in that second quarter,” Gradwell said. “We just never really got it back to where we wanted it from that point on. They played good defense.”
Treynor defeated North Cedar 66-58 in the other Class 2A quarterfinal Tuesday. The other semifinal pits top-ranked Western Christian against No. 6 Cascade. West Fork outscored the Trojans 19-9 in points off turnovers and 40-28 in the paint. The Trojans graduate nine seniors from their squad.
“We had a great season and they were a fun group to work with,” deNeui said. “They’re just a bunch of kids that like to hang out with each other and it’s usually in the gym.”