DES MOINES — Riverside's best player limped with a foot blister. Its senior guard went scoreless. Free throws were an adventure.
Yet there were the Bulldogs, trailing Storm Lake St. Mary's just 38-34 midway through the third quarter. Maybe an extended trip to Des Moines was meant to be in the program's boys state tournament debut.
St. Mary's spent the rest of the Class 1-A quarterfinal game dashing those dreams. The fourth-seeded and second-rated Panthers responded with nine straight points and cruised to a 73-51 win over fifth-seeded and ninth-rated Riverside on Monday afternoon at Wells Fargo Arena.
Six-foot-7 senior Ricky Williams posted 21 points and 17 rebounds for the Bulldogs (24-2) while dealing with a large blister on his left foot that cropped up before tipoff. And despite the lopsided final, he said his team's overall performance is a fitting end to a season-long run that inspired more than 500 orders for yellow state tourney T-shirts.
“We showed everyone that we deserved to be here,” Williams said. “It didn't show at the end of the game, but we're not going to (roll) over for anyone. We showed that we're good enough to be here, and that felt good.”
But St. Mary's high-scoring duo of Kennedy Drey and Luke Lenhart didn't let Riverside stick around. Drey picked up his second foul at the 4:10 mark in the first quarter, but stayed in and finished with a game-high 33 points and 14 rebounds. The 6-foot-6 senior didn't commit another foul the rest of the way.
Lenhart added 28 points, including a 13-for-15 effort at the foul line. Next up for the Panthers (25-1) is top-seeded and top-rated Danville (26-0) Thursday at 10:30 a.m.
“I think it was just a couple plays where maybe we didn't play defense the best that we could and they went on little spurts,” Riverside guard Ean Patrick said. “Maybe we turned the ball over a couple times and they got a couple buckets that way. If we had tightened up our defense and cut down on turnovers, I think we could have been a lot closer.”
Patrick — one of two seniors along with Williams — fouled out with 6:24 left in the game, missing all three of his shots. After embracing coach Jason Shelangouski, he sat on the bench and wrestled with the emotions that came with his final prep game.
Becoming a teacher is Patrick's goal after high school. But he said he wouldn't ever forget the unity and trust forged among teammates living in and around the Oakland, Carson and Macedonia communities.
“I was just having flashbacks of my high school basketball career and all the great memories,” Patrick said. “It really got to me there. I was just disappointed I couldn't be on the floor longer and get a few points at state.”
The Bulldogs played 20 minutes of impressive basketball before St. Mary's pulled away. Their last lead was 7-6, but they went on a 7-0 run to draw within 26-21 late in the second quarter and trailed 34-25 at intermission following a pair of Brady Ryun free throws.
Williams added two short jumpers to open the third frame to cut the Panther lead to five. After a St. Mary's free throw and 3-pointer from Lenhart, Riverside's Garrett Graves came back with a layup and Ryun nailed a line-drive triple to make it 38-34.
St. Mary's countered with a 35-11 surge before the Bulldogs ended the game with three consecutive buckets. The deciding stretch began with nine straight St. Mary's points, including back-to-back steals and layups for Drey, and a third turnover that resulted in a Lenhart trey after Drey missed on a one-handed dunk attempt.
Riverside connected on 5 of 15 free throws, while the Panthers were 19 of 23.
“I should be able to recognize our offense, and there were times I don't know what we were doing (in the first half),” St. Mary's coach Brad Wilkening said. “That aggravates me a bit. We kind of straightened that out and in the second half we got back to basics.
“For about a six-minute period of time there, we were really pretty good.”
Predictably, the Panthers' game plan revolved around Williams. They attacked the paint on offense — Williams finished with four fouls — and kept two defenders on him at the other end. Wilkening said the Riverside standout surprised his squad by moving farther away from the basket and using screens to hit open shots, including a 3-pointer in the second quarter.
But the effort wasn't enough against a St. Mary's bunch that won its 101st game in 105 tries.
“I think we ran out of gas,” Shelangouski said. “When you get out there it's about who wants to play more. We wanted to play just as much as they did. It showed for some quarters, but we just had some lapses that ultimately they capitalized on.”
Riverside (24-2)..........................12 13 15 11—51
Storm Lake St. Mary's (25-1)...........17 17 23 16—73
R: Malachi Dillon 2-7 0-0 4, Ean Patrick 0-3 0-0 0, Brady Ryun 4-12 2-2 13, Ricky Williams 9-24 2-4 21, Garrett Graves 1-3 1-6 3, Brandon Sipherd 0-0 0-0 0, Tanner Ford 2-4 0-0 4, Michael Bertacini 0-2 0-0 0, Kyle Myers 1-3 0-1 2, Preston Steinhoff 2-2 0-1 4. Totals: 21-60 5-14 51.
SM: Dillan Smith 2-3 0-0 4, Luke Lenhart 6-15 13-15 28, Josh Scuffham 0-0 0-0 0, Joe Sandhoff 0-4 0-0 0, Kennedy Drey 13-22 6-8 33, Josh Demers 0-1 0-0 0, Eric Broich 1-1 0-0 2, Joe Kottke 0-0 0-0 0, Aaron Miller 0-0 0-0 0, Kyle Besaw 0-0 0-0 0, Trevor Landgraf 3-3 0-0 6, Luca Carlin 0-1 0-0 0, Alex Smith 0-0 0-0 0, Ian Schaller 0-2 0-0 0. Totals: 25-52 19-23 73.
3-point goals: R 4-9 (Ryun 3-6, Williams 1-2, Ford 0-1), SM 4-14 (Lenhart 3-5, Sandhoff 0-3, Drey 1-4, Demers 0-1, Schaller 0-1). Total fouls: R 15, SM 16. Fouled out: Patrick. Technical fouls: none. Rebounds: R 35 (Williams 17), SM 39 (Drey 14). Assists: R 12 (Dillon, Patrick, Ryun 3), SM 16 (Smith 7). Steals: R 7 (Williams 4), SM 14 (Lenhart 4). Turnovers: R 17, SM 14.