The Remsen St. Mary’s boys basketball team continued on its historic run of state tournament trips on Saturday night.
The Hawks completed a thrilling substate final win over Gehlen Catholic taking the season’s rubber match by a score of 49-38.
The Le Mars Community gym was filled to the brim with eager basketball fans for what promised to be a great game. They were treated to a great game from both sides that started out with a tough open on the offensive end. Remsen St. Mary’s co-head coach Scott Ruden says the Gehlen defense really had their number to open the game.
The Hawks were looking to go down to what worked against the Jays last time. Collin Homan scored 20 points and 11 rebounds their last time out against Gehlen. Coach Ruden says the Jays did a good job of taking him away forcing others to pick up the slack.
One of those players who helped pick things up in a big way was Cael Ortmann. The senior had 14 points with 10 coming in the first half. He says with all the attention on Homan, he knew he would be open and get some great looks.
Normally, Jaxon Bunkers is the one having a huge impact on the offensive end averaging nearly 16 points a game coming into this ball game. He picked up two quick fouls in the first two minutes and did not play more than one minute the rest of the first half. Coach Ruden says having a senior like Ortmann step up in his place was big for the team.
The Hawks were leading 21-18 heading into the halftime break. Senior guard Alex Schroeder scored 10 points including seven in the second half. He says once the Hawks had Bunkers back in for the second half, it opened everything else up for the rest of the team.
In the third quarter, Gehlen Catholic started heating up. The Jays ended the third quarter on an 11-2 run capped by a Keaten Bonderson near-half-court buzzer-beater. The Jays were up 31-26 at that time, and coach Ruden knew the guys just needed to calm down heading into the fourth.
The Hawks then went on a 23-7 scoring outburst in the fourth quarter to seal off the win. Ortmann says it was the level-headed mindset and some big shots down the stretch that were the difference.
Schroeder says it took some senior leadership to put both Homan and Landon Waldschmitt in positions to make big shots for the Hawks.
The Hawks sealed the game with some free throws down the stretch and let their defense hold true for the 11-point win. The Hawks became just the fifth school in the history of the boys state tournament to qualify in seven consecutive seasons. It may seem routine for fans in Remsen now, but Coach Ruden is not taking anything for granted.
Last year, the Hawks were looking to simply win a game at state after getting bounced in the first round in back-to-back seasons. This year, the Hawks are looking to get even further than the semifinals. Coach Ruden says for that to happen, it will take the skill they possess and a little bit of fortunate bounces.
Ortmann and this senior class have been on big stages before. To succeed this year, the Hawks will need to embrace the pressure and not fold under it.
The Hawks will take a 22-2 record into their state tournament matchup on Monday, March 6 at 3:45 PM against Gladbrook-Reinbeck. The Hawks are the six-seed and the Rebels are the three-seed in the 1A tournament. Gehlen Catholic’s season ends with a record of 20-6.