The third stop on my Iowa High School Basketball Coaches Postseason Tournament Tour took me to Humboldt to watch our own North Polk Comet girls, coached by Clint Albertsen, take on the Humboldt Wildcats. And if there is anything being a fan of Wisconsin Badgers basketball has taught me it's to appreciate some defensive battles on the basketball floor. Last night was a classic example of that. It was beautiful.
After making the 90 minute drive to Humboldt, I grabbed my popcorn and Skittles from the concession stands and settled in for some Regional Semifinal action. More on the popcorn in the next topic but that 90 minute drive seems excessive for a 2nd round basketball matchup. I guess with 5 classes now the teams are more diluted and spread out so more travel is required to match up with other teams in your class, that just seemed like a long trip for this early in the tournament. But hey, it's tournament time....you gotta make some sacrifices.
The first quarter saw both teams trade buckets back and forth. North Polk did a great job with their High-Low action to get some easy buckets and Humboldt did a great job executing some screen and roll action to get some baskets around the rim. But once the 2nd quarter started, the defense for both teams really settled in and put points at a premium. Humboldt took a 6 point lead into halftime, only to see North Polk cut it to 1 I believe heading into the 4th quarter.
It ended up being the Comets that finally got the rims to loosen and some outside shots to fall in the 4th quarter. Some big three-point baskets allowed the Comets to push the lead to 7 or 9 points in the fourth and withstand a late Wildcat charge down the stretch. The Comets pulled out a 39-35 victory to move onto the the Regional Finals Saturday night in Clarion against Clear Lake.
Of course, a night at a basketball game is not complete without a trip to the concession stands for a popcorn and Skittles combo. Had some high hopes for the popcorn at Humboldt because I'd read some tweets the past couple years from former alum Jacob Short about how great their popcorn was. So the expectations were high going in.
First off, back to reality again and only charging $1 for a popcorn. I don't know if it was the high expectations or if the popcorn had been sitting there for a while but not a great first couple bite from my bag. I think the top kernels were a little cold and had probably been sitting there for awhile. I bought the popcorn right before starting lineups so I probably missed the popcorn rush 10 minutes prior and the opportunity to get the popcorn right out of the popper.
But once I got through the colder top layer it was much better. I don't know nearly as much as I should about Popcorn Science but the middle and bottom layers of the bag were much better. I think the heat from the popcorn was probably still trapped in the bag and couldn't escape through the air like the top layer did, so it was a much better popcorn experience. A solid salt/butter ratio and a big enough bag to last me through the entire first half. A little warmer and a little more butter and this could have been a tough popcorn to top for the rest of the #IHSBBCPTT. But as it stands now, Humboldt will easily take the #1spot on the Popcorn Power Rankings but there is still potential for another school to take the top spot in the future. Your move Lynnville-Sully.
Popcorn Power Rankings
2. Rockwell City
3. West Central Valley
If I've said once, I've said it a thousand times: Iowa State is the ultimate zig-zag team. Right when you think they are going to zig they zag and right when you think they're going to zag they zig. Not sure anyone was predicting a dominate performance on the road at Kansas State. If they hadn't of lost at Texas the previous week then a solid road win at the Octagon of Doom may not have seemed so unlikely. But after following up the Kansas road win with a Texas road loss, of course Iowa State would put on a great show at Kansas...because that makes no sense and that's what these Cyclones do.
I didn't get to watch any of the game since I was driving up to Humboldt for some IGHSAU action. Heard parts of the first half on the radio and watched parts of the 2nd half on my phone. So not sure X's and O's wise what happened but I wouldn't know that kind of stuff even if I watched the game anyways. Sounds like Young had a great game, which would be a nice boost down the stretch if he could play even around that level the rest of the way. The Cyclones really are a serviceable big man away from being a scary team in March. Not a Final Four scary team but one that could easily make the Sweet Sixteen with any type of a post presence and could make an Elite Eight run. What team are you going to be scared to play in the tournament this year? No one. If Iowa State could get a 7 seed in the NCAA Tournament there isn't a 2 seed I'd be scared of in the 2nd round. I'm putting the cart in front of the horse here but if the Cyclones could even sneak into a 6 seed and play the 3 seed in the Round of 32....there's potential.
But, again....zig-zag. Right when you think the Cyclones maybe have things figured out, maybe start bracing for the gut-check.