Waverly-SR falls to Oskaloosa in 3A State Semifinals - KWWL - Eastern Iowa Breaking News, Weather, Closings

Waverly-SR falls to Oskaloosa in 3A State Semifinals

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It all almost slipped away from Oskaloosa at the free throw line. Thursday’s semifinal lead on Waverly-Shell Rock, the program’s first state title game ever, the energy of a swelling crowd at Wells Fargo Arena, because the third-seeded Indians (23-3) couldn’t make their free shots at the stripe down the stretch. But coach Ryan Parker’s team held on despite a great Go-Hawk effort, and Oskaloosa earned a spot in Friday’s championship round with a 48-45 win.

Oskaloosa took an early lead with its outstanding length and efficient shooting, carrying an eight point lead into halftime and a decisive edge offensively. But a gritty Go-Hawk (19-7) squad making its fifth semifinal appearance in the last eight years refused to back down to 6-foot-11 post Xavier Foster and Oskaloosa’s tall top scorers Jarad Kruse and Cole Henry. Waverly-Shell Rock took a brief lead back in a game that became a defensive struggle, using a third quarter comeback to stage a dramatic finish.

Oskaloosa was led by Kruse’s 16 points as Foster and Henry added 11 each, but the lead faltered with a 3-of-17 start from the free throw line. The squad would make six of its last eight attempts to advance, but Parker and his players were bemoaning their struggles after leaving a celebratory locker room. The Indians shot 58 percent from the field and held Waverly-Shell Rock to 44 percent and few open looks, but the semifinal went down to the wire anyway.

Guard Luke Velky paced Waverly-Shell Rock, which will appear in Friday’s 3A consolation against two-time defending champion Xavier, Cedar Rapids.

Oskaloosa will make its first title game appearance in its eighth state tournament trip. Parker’s squad is the first since 1996 to advance to Des Moines. It will tip o

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