DES MOINES — Nate Mohr turned to the massive Glenwood crowd wearing a smile wider than Keg Creek, which flows through town.
The Rams are going to the state championship game in boys basketball. Not many years ago, those words would have been unthinkable.
“I don’t think there’s better words right there,” Mohr said. “It’s amazing to make history. We’ve got one more game, though.”
In its first state semifinal in school history, Glenwood slayed the top dog, two-time defending state champion Cedar Rapids Xavier. As they’ve done so often through the years, seniors Mohr and Andrew Blum led the way with 21 points apiece, and the fifth-rated Rams outfought No. 1 Xavier 69-63 Thursday at Wells Fargo Arena.
Fourth-seeded Glenwood (24-2) will meet third-rated and third-seeded Oskaloosa (23-3) in the Class 3-A title game at 6:30 p.m. Friday. One team will win its first state championship in boys basketball.
“We’re really proud of how far we’ve come,” Glenwood coach Curt Schulte said. “The last five, six years we’ve just kind of been building for this. Our goals at the beginning of the year were not only to win a conference championship and get to the state tournament, but one of our main goals was to win a state championship.
“Now we’ve got the ability tomorrow night to fulfill all of our goals.”
It was a contest befitting of a state semifinal. There were 12 ties and 13 lead changes. Neither team led by more than five points until the final 18 seconds.
One five-second flurry put Glenwood in the driver’s seat entering the final two minutes. The left-handed Blum scored on a patient move in the post, faking to his strong side, whirling and finishing with his right hand to put the Rams up 57-54.
“A couple possessions before, I drop-stepped to the right, went up and he got called for a foul, but I noticed he jumped right away,” Blum said. “So I did a pump-fake, then kept my pivot foot and finished with the right hand.”
Mohr then stole the inbounds pass and laid it in to put the Rams up five.
Quinn Schulte’s driving basket cut Glenwood’s lead to 63-61 with 42.9 seconds left. Mohr then found Christian Stanislav under the basket and he finished over a Xavier defender to push it to four with 35 seconds showing.
“I just missed the same shot a couple minutes before,” Stanislav said. “I knew I had to make it in order to keep our lead.”
Jackson Joens missed a 3, and Blum’s two free throws extended the lead to six with 19.8 seconds left. Mohr iced it with two more free throws at the seven-second mark.
Glenwood made 17 of 18 (94.4 percent) from the free-throw line, pushing their two-game free-throw shooting at state to 35-of-37 (94.6 percent).
“I thought we were good in stretches,” Xavier coach Ryan Luehrsmann said. “But you’ve got to give credit to Glenwood. Up and down their roster they made plays, shots at critical times. I think they shot a lot more free throws than us and got the advantage of some calls, and they made the most of it.” Xavier made 8-of-12 at the line.
One key to Glenwood’s win was its defense on Matthew Mims, the South Dakota State recruit who had 32 points in Xavier’s quarterfinal win over Marion. Mohr guarded him for the first quarter and the entire second half, with Zach Carr taking him in the second. Mims shot 4 for 20 from the field and finished with 14 points, seven assists and six rebounds
“He is probably by far the best player I’ve ever had to guard,” Mohr said. “It wasn’t easy. I just put it all out there.”
Said Curt Schulte: “Nate is just a gamer. He wants to guard their best player every game. He was excited to guard Mims tonight. He’s a tremendous player. To hold him to (seven) points under his season average was huge.”
Andrew Blum grabbed a game-high 13 rebounds to go with three assists and three steals. Stanislav pitched in 16 points.
“It’s something you always dream about, and it’s finally become a reality,” Stanislav said.
Glenwood (24-2)……..13 13 15 28—69
CR Xavier (19-7)………12 13 17 21—63
G: Nate Kennedy 0-1 0-0 0, Nate Mohr 5-14 8-8 21, Cody Buresh 1-2 0-0 2, Andrew Blum 8-12 5-6 21, Christian Stanislav 7-10 0-0 16, Zach Carr 1-2 2-2 4, Ryan Blum 1-4 2-2 5. Totals 23-45 17-18 69.
X: Gabe Lux 1-4 0-0 3, Matthew Mims 4-20 3-6 14, Jackson Joens 5-15 1-1 14, Quinn Schulte 5-5 1-1 11, Kyle Moeder 6-7 0-0 12, Jake Beckmann 0-1 0-0 0, Mitch Helmkamp 0-0 0-0 0, Aaron Bartels 3-3 3-4 9. Totals 24-55 8-12 63.
3-point goals: G 6-20 (Mohr 3-12, Stanislav 2-2, R. Blum 1-3, A. Blum 0-3), X 7-23 (Joens 3-8, Mims 3-11, Lux 1-3, Beckmann 0-1). Total fouls: G 14, X 19. Fouled out: Moeder. Technical fouls: none. Rebounds: G 27 (A. Blum 13), X 29 (Mims, Schulte 6). Assists: G 8 (Mohr 4), X 14 (Mims 7). Steals: G 6 (Mohr, A. Blum 3), X 5 (Schulte 2). Turnovers: G 11, X 10.