32 MINUTES AWAY

Hawks, Comets meet tonight for a spot in 2A?title game

South Hamilton starters Conner Hill (25), Cole Berg (5), Quinton Grove (15), Logan Peters (14) and Cade Balvanz (30) await the introductions prior to Monday’s Class 2A state quarterfinal against Rock Valley. The Hawks will face Boyden-Hull in tonight’s semifinal round at 6:30 p.m. in Des Moines. DFJ photo/Troy Banning

DES MOINES — South Hamilton’s trip through the Siouxland Conference will continue this evening in the Class 2A state semifinals at Wells Fargo Arena.

After dispatching league member Rock Valley, 73-61, in Monday’s quarterfinals, the third-ranked and second-seeded Hawks (22-1) will set their sights on Siouxland champion, fifth-ranked and third-seeded Boyden-Hull (23-2) in tonight’s first Final Four contest at 6:30 p.m.

North Linn (24-0) and Van Meter (22-2) will meet in the second 2A semifinal at 8:15 p.m. The losers will drop into Thursday’s 11:55 a.m. consolation game, while the winners will battle for the state championship Friday afternoon at 4:10 p.m.

South Hamilton got past the opening round for the first time since it was the state runner-up in 1988. In between wins were four quarterfinal setbacks and head coach Nathan Hill hopes that the proverbial monkey off the back will allow his team to play freely this evening.

“Just winning that first-round game, I could sense the confidence in the kids after the game,” Hill said. “Now it’s about really enjoying the rest of the week and looking forward to the next opponent. We’re not taking anything lightly.”

South Hamilton head coach Nathan Hill gestures towards his players on the court during Monday’s 73-61 victory over Rock Valley. DFJ photo/Troy Banning

Boyden-Hull reached the semifinals with a 61-56 victory over Iowa City Regina, a contest that really wasn’t as close as the final score indicated. The Comets scored the game’s first seven points, led by nine after three quarters and built their cushion to as many as 15 in the final period before Regina made things somewhat interesting.

Hill sees plenty of similarities between Rock Valley and Boyden-Hull. Both teams like to attack the basket on every possession and have a variety of weapons.

“We’re playing a team that’s very similar to the one we just got done playing, so the boys know what they’re going to get,” Hill said. “But Boyden-Hull does have more length. I don’t think they’ll put their heads down and try to out-muscle you to the basket like Rock Valley did, but they have more guys that are capable of scoring.”

The Comets showed tremendous balance and discipline in their victory over Regina. They continually moved the ball on offense and didn’t force shots, opting instead to remain patient until they found lanes to attack.

Beau De Jongh led all scorers with 25 points in Boyden-Hull’s quarterfinal win and Keyton Moser scored 11 more. They are the Comets leading scorers on the season at 14.7 and 11.7 points per game, respectively.

Conner Hill (25) scores two of his game-high 22 points in South Hamilton’s 73-61 win over Rock Valley in Monday’s Class 2A state quarterfinal round. DFJ photo/Troy Banning

“De Jongh likes to post up and take advantage of some of his skill sets, and Moser is solid, a strong 6-1 kid and he does a good job of putting his head down and getting to the rim,” Hill said.

South Hamilton struggled at times with the physicality of Rock Valley and lacked the defensive discipline needed, Hill said. That will need to change if the Hawks hope to advance to the championship.

“Rock Valley was very well-prepared for our aggressive defense, but we have to play much better defense because shots might not be falling like they were (against the Rockets),” Hill said. “We have to be dialed in and focused and I think that’s where our experience could help us.”

Neither team had an issue offensively on Monday. Boyden-Hull shot 58.8 percent overall, while South Hamilton connected at a 52 percent clip.

Senior point guard and Morningside College recruit Conner Hill poured in 22 points, 16 coming in the first half, in South Hamilton’s triumph over Rock Valley. Classmates Cole Berg (17 points) and Logan Peters (16 points) were weapons as well.

DFJ photo/Troy Banning

Boyden-Hull is in the state field for the 17th time overall. The Comets won back-to-back titles in 2012 and 2013 under head coach Bill Francis, who has been in charge of the program for the past 18 years.

South Hamilton is a nine-time state qualifier and two-time state finalist.

Semifinal Glance

BOYDEN-HULL COMETS

Probable Starters

No Player Ht Gr ppg rpg

3 Brett Van Der Wilt 5-10 Sr 3.3 1.9

55 Keyton Moser 6-2 Jr 12.2 5.5

10 Carter Francis 6-1 Sr 6.8 4.2

23 Spencer Te Slaa 6-3 Jr 10.2 5.2

11 Beau De Jongh 6-3 Sr 14.5 5.0

Record: 23-2 (No. 3 seed)

Offensive Average: 69.4 (2nd in field)

Defensive Average: 53.3 (7th in field)

Strength of Schedule (2A): 7th

Head Coach: Bill Francis

Conference: Siouxland

State Tournament Trips: 17

State Titles: 3

Win Streak: 4

Postseason Trek: Districts — Sibley-Ocheyedan, 68-53, and Sioux Center, 49-44. Substate — Pocahontas Area, 68-56. State Quarterfinal — Iowa City Regina, 61-56.

SOUTH HAMILTON HAWKS

Probable Starters

No Player Ht Gr ppg rpg

15 Quinton Grove 5-11 Jr 5.4 4.6

25 Conner Hill 6-0 Sr 17.2 6.1

14 Logan Peters 6-2 Sr 14.5 4.5

5 Cole Berg 6-1 Sr 12.6 5.8

30 Cade Balvanz 6-5 Jr 11.0 5.9

Record: 22-1 (No. 2 seed)

Offensive Average: 68.3 (3rd in field)

Defensive Average: 48.2 (5th in field)

Strength of Schedule (2A): 30th

Head Coach: Nathan Hill

Conference: Heart Of Iowa

State Tournament Trips: 9

State Titles: 0

Win Streak: 16

Postseason Trek: Districts — CGD, 66-26, and Garner-Hayfield/Ventura, 71-54. Substate — New Hampton, 63-31. State Quarterfinal — Rock Valley, 73-61.

CLASS 2A GLANCE

Monday, March 4

Quarterfinals

Boyden-Hull 61, Iowa City Regina 56

South Hamilton 73, Rock Valley 61

Van Meter 43, Dike-New Hartford 32

Tuesday, March 5

Quarterfinals

North Linn 68, Des Moines Christian 45

Wednesday, March 6

Semifinals

6:30 — South Hamilton (22-1) vs. Boyden-Hull (23-2)

8:15 — North Linn (24-0) vs. Van Meter (22-2)

Thursday, March 7

Consolation Final

11:55 a.m. — Semifinal losers

Friday, March 8

Championship

4:10 — Semifinal winners

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