Boys Basketball

Boys basketball secures 4A record 24th state tournament appearance

Posted March 1, 2023

After the departure of three soon-to-be college basketball players from the 2022 IHSAA state title-winning team, expectations for this year’s team may have been somewhat limited.

After some big victories, some surprising losses, a furious comeback in a substate final, and perhaps some luck of the draw in the substate final – the Little Cyclones will end their season at Wells Fargo Arena in Des Moines.

On Friday, Ames trailed Ankeny 39-26 at halftime of a substate final contest. The Little Cyclones found themselves in a precarious situation after senior leader was called for a third foul in the first quarter of the game. Ankeny took advantage with a 21-12 second-quarter to give the Hawks a halftime advantage. That lead would be short-lived: the Little Cyclones had one of the program’s most impressive second-half performances, ever. Jamison Poe ended the night with 31 points, including a banked-in, buzzer-beating three-pointer to cap off a 24-5 third-quarter in favor of Ames, and put the Little Cyclones up for good. Ames would go on to win 72-51 behind a 46-12 second half advantage to move to last night’s substate final.

On the other side of the bracket, top-seeded Indianola was upset by a resurgent Linn-Mar team, setting up the only substate final to not feature a top-10 ranked team. The Lions came into the game with just a 10-13 record, but had recently returned to its healthiest form all season after several injury problems throughout.

The Little Cyclones started slow, finding theirselves on the short end of a 13-7 scoreline early on. Lucas Lueth eventually found a rhythm past Linn-Mar’s zone defense, scoring 18 first-half points en route to a 29-point night, and giving the Little Cyclones a 28-24 halftime lead.

Much like the Ankeny game, the second half belonged to the Little Cyclones. A 21-14 third-quarter advantage stretched the lead to 11 going into the final period where the Lions would go cold from the field. Chol Yak provided quality minutes in relief for the Little Cyclones when Frank Keller encountered some late foul trouble and Jack Wynter hit timely 3s to help Ames advance to its third-consecutive state tournament.

The Little Cyclones (17-7) will draw No. 2 Waukee (22-2), led by five-star national top-10 prospect Omaha Biliew. Waukee’s only losses on the season were an early season two-point loss at Waukee Northwest and a five-point loss to Ankeny – a team Ames recently defeated – on January 13th.

Tip-off will be next Wednesday, March 8 at 10:30 AM. Tickets are $10 and can be purchased online via the Iowa Events Center box office website.

The winner of Wednesday’s contest will move on to face the winner of No. 3 Waukee Northwest and No. 6 Ankeny Centennial on Thursday evening.