Sixth ranked Unity Christian upset third-ranked Clear Lake 60-35 in the 3A quarterfinal round of the girls’ state basketball tournament Tuesday. Unity Christian coach Jay Schuleman was glad to get the school’s state tournament win. “You know just a big sigh of relief, to get up here I think there was a lot of pressure,” Schuleman says. “…now we finally got to state and got that first win and that was big.”
Schuleman says their record may be a little deceiving. He says three of the four teams that beat them are at the state tournament and the other was rated in class 2A. “We’ve lost to some pretty good teams, been tested by some good teams, and that’s helped us.” Kassidy DeJong led Unity Christian with 19 points and says they’re all excited after the school’s first state tourney win. “We didn’t come down here just to play one game and that was kind of our whole focus,” DeJong says. She says they are playing really well. “We just want it so bad right now and I think we’re peaking at the right time,” DeJong says.
Clear Lake coach, Bart Smith, says there was one thing that hurt them. “Length, their length just kind of took over. I thought they could get easy scoring opportunities on offense compared to us — we’re a bunch of guards trying to attack the rim,” Smith says. Clear Lake finishes the season at 22-3, and Smith says it is hard to say goodbye to the seniors. “They’re really good, they are going to be a tough group to let go,” Smith says. He says they have been great leaders who have taught a lot to the younger players.
Unity Christian will play Crestwood in a semifinal Thursday at 3:5.
Top-ranked MOC Floyd Valley rolled out to an early lead and never looked back in a 69-42 win over Center point-Urbana in class 3A. Lady Dutch coach, Garry Richardson. “Well, I just thought we got out to a great start defensively and offensively — but it took the pressure off right away by being able to get out and run a little bit, get in the passing lanes and defend,” Richardson says.
Volleyball standout Alexis Conway proved her ability on the basketball court too, as she had 21 points, 10 rebounds, 8 assists and 7 steals. Richardson says he has not been around a player like her. “She simply can dominate whatever category that you want to have her dominate. And that sounds arrogant — it just isn’t. — she can do that, and does it very humbly,” Richardson says.
Conaway has won a state title in volleyball and says they are off to a good start. “Coming down here it’s always a little bit different just because it is a big arena, there’s lots of people, you’re not quite used to it and there’s a little bit of nerves there,” Conaway says. “I think we did a really good job of starting out.” Conaway says a state basketball championship would be a good way to end her career. “It would mean a lot — and I think even more than that — we just want to keep playing, we love playing together. That’s our goal, to just keep playing as long as we can,” she says.
Center-Point Urbana senior Kennedy Salow led her team with 19 points. Salow says the Lady Dutch were good and they did not play good enough defense and box out well enough in the game. Salow says they battle hard to get to the tournament.”I’m so proud of our team this year for sticking it out, I mean we had a really tough schedule this year. So, I’m very proud of my team I am so happy to be a part of it, I am going to miss them so much,” Salow says. The Pointers end the season at 18-7.
MOC Floyd Valley moves on to face Mediapolis in the semifinals Thursday at 5 o’clock. Mediapolis beat Williamsburg 61-43 to advance.
The class 4A got tournament got underway in the evening session Tuesday. Harlan scored with one second left to hold off an upset bid by North Scott 52-50. In the second 4A game of the night, Carlisle defeated Dallas Center-Grimes 53 to 48.