By Ryan Murken
Your Prep Sports
DES MOINES – For the first time in history the big class title game is a rematch.
For two of the premier programs in the state Saturday’s 8:05 p.m. matchup at Wells Fargo Arena is a championship rubber match.
For top-ranked West High (22-3) its meeting with defending champion West Des Moines Valley (21-4) in the Class 4A title game is a chance for redemption.
“We won our freshman year but the next two we have come up short so I think just being the senior leaders and getting back here is exactly what we wanted to do,” West High senior Connor McCaffery said. “Now we have to take advantage.”
Saturday’s title game matchup will be the third time in four seasons West High and West Des Moines Valley have met for the 4A crown and the first time that the same two teams have played for the big class title in back-to-back seasons.
Each team has a win in the previous title game series.
West High claimed its third straight title with a 57-45 win over the Tigers in 2014 and Valley returned the favor with a 46-39 win last season.
The Trojans get their chance to avenge that loss on Saturday.
“From the start, from the very first practice we have been saying we want to go back,” West High senior Devontae Lane said. “For us seniors we know the feeling of everything, playing in the consolation game, losing in the semis, losing in the championship. We know the feeling of it all so it means a lot for us to come back for the second year and be able to have the chance to play for another state title.”
Valley brings a 12-game winning streak into the state title game following a 64-54 semifinal win over fourth-ranked Sioux City East on Friday.
The Tigers have benefitted from the return of 6-foot-6 senior Quinton Curry who missed the first 17 games while recovering from ACL surgery.
Curry is averaging 10.5 points and 7.4 rebounds per game since his return to the lineup and has recorded double-doubles in three of the last five games.
“Just having (Quinton) back is huge,” Valley senior Charley Crowley said. “That kind of gave us more energy because Q is a high-energy guy so having him back has brought our energy up.”
No one has benefitted more from the presence of Curry than the 6-foot-8 Crowley.
Crowley is averaging 13.5 points and 6.3 rebounds per game since Curry returned and has back-to-back 20-point games at the state tournament.
The senior center had a career-high 25 points in the semifinal win.
“They are big and they can cause problems with both those big guys out there,” West High coach Steve Bergman said. “That is my concern so we will have to figure something out.”
Tops on the list of things to figure out for West High is how to keep the Tigers off the glass.
Valley is +9 in rebounding margin in its first two games at state and held a 31-19 rebounding edge in last year’s title game win over West High.
West High outrebounded Cedar Rapids Kennedy 40-34 in a semifinal win but allowed 21 offensive rebounds.
“You have to rebound and we didn’t rebound great today in the first half,” Bergman said. “You have to figure out a way to rebound and not let them shoot layups.”