After splitting the series during the regular season, the North Cedar Knights and the West Branch Bears ended up meeting one more time at the Iowa High School Basketball 2-A Substate action. Iowa City West High School hosted this huge event that gave the winner an entry into the state tournament in March at Wells Fargo Arena in Des Moines.
Both teams came ready to play, but the persistent defense of the Knights wore down the Bears. West Branch came into the game averaging 57.3 points per game, but were only able to come up with 43. The Bears even out-rebounded the Knights 24-18, but came up quite a bit short at the free-throw line. They were only able to put 6 in out of 16 attempts for 37.5%. Their leading scorer, senior Rylan Murry, was averaging 24 points per game, but only managed 14. Murry put in 22 in the first meeting that West Branch won, but only scored 14 in the last two matchups - both losses. All three meetings were decided by 9 points, each.
North Cedar Knights had both their big boys in double-figures, 6' 4" sophomore Jayden Johnson with 12, and 6' 4" senior Marshall Shedeck with 13. Junior Josh Kintzel led with 5 defensive rebounds and 5 assists. The team totaled 9 steals to West Branch's 3. Junior Jacob Hay was assigned Murry when the Knights went to a box-and-1 defense, which means that 4 Knight players played zone, while Hay guarded Murry one-on-one. This proved to be very effective as the Knights came back from being behind in the first quarter 8-11 to leading the rest of the way with breaks at halftime 21-19, 3rd quarter 32-28, and the final 52-43.
West Branch Bears ended their season at 18-6, while North Cedar Knights continue on at 21-3. The Knights will play their first round state game against MFL-MarMac, who is also 21-3, on March 4 at 6:35pm. North Cedar will be the #4 seed and MFL-MarMac will be #5 seed.