CEDAR RAPIDS, Iowa — It’s challenging enough to beat a ranked team on its home court. And to have to do it twice in one season is quite the tall task.
Dubuque Wahlert was up for it.
The Golden Eagles knocked out No. 12 Cedar Rapids Xavier, 52-36, in a Class 4A girls’ basketball regional semifinal Saturday night at Ron Thillen Gynmasium. The win was Wahlert’s second of the season against Xavier, with both games at Xavier.
In their first matchup Dec. 8, Wahlert defeated the Saints, 56-47. The Golden Eagles (12-9) increased their margin of victory Saturday.
“I thought they dug deep and played with a lot of heart,” Wahlert Coach Kris Spiegler said. “It’s our heart. Emma’s (Donovan) a good rebounder, Ally (Kutsch) rebounded well and Maya Wachter’s just a little thing and she just has a lot of heart.”
Xavier (10-7) trailed by just six at intermission, 21-17, but Wahlert pulled away by being aggressive, getting the Saints in foul trouble and knocking down free throws.
Wahlert shot 15 of 21 from the charity stripe, including 11 of 14 in the second half.
“We work a lot on free throws to increase our percentage,” Donovan said. “It was a little rocky at the beginning, but we continued to focus at the line.”
Donovan led the Golden Eagles in scoring with 14 points.
“(Donovan) had a couple of fouls there, but she was able to play consistent and wise,” Spiegler said. “She goes hard to the basket.”
Seniors Ana Chandlee and Mary Kate King both had 11 points for Wahlert, and Kutsch added 10.
“Our seniors have more experience with each other and being under more control,” Spiegler said. “We had seniors that did not want to be done tonight. They want to play more.”
With the win, Wahlert advances to a 4A regional final Tuesday at No. 5 Waverly-Shell Rock.
“We’ve been waiting for this moment,” Donovan said.