DES MOINES — North Scott wanted to turn its state quarterfinal basketball game Tuesday night into a track meet. Nevada, with its limited depth and height, preferred a more methodical approach.
Quickness won out. Decisively.
The Lancers forced 22 turnovers and raced up and down the floor at Wells Fargo Arena to dismantle Class 4A second-ranked Nevada 57-27, the program’s first state tournament victory in 30 seasons.
“Our speed up and down the floor was ridiculous tonight,” North Scott coach TJ Case said. “It was the difference in the game. We knew they played limited bodies, so we thought our advantage was to get out and go.”
No. 8 North Scott (19-5) meets Mississippi Valley Conference member and sixth-ranked Cedar Rapids Xavier at 10 a.m. Friday in a semifinal contest. The Lancers are seeking to reach the championship game for the first time since finishing as runner-up in 1987.
“We just didn’t want to get here this year,” Lancer senior Karli Rucker said. “We wanted to stay more than one game. That was a big statement game for our team.”
Nevada (22-2) captured a state championship in 3A two years ago and was a finalist last season. In their first year of 4A, the Cubs beat up on 2A and 3A schools during the regular season.
North Scott’s speed in the backcourt overwhelmed them.
“They’re the most athletic team we’ve seen,” Nevada coach Tony Neubauer said. “Our style of play is different. We’re the babies of 4A (enrollment-wise) and there is a separation of depth.
"They were extremely quick and played very well."
Nevada led 13-8 early in the second quarter behind 6-foot-2 post Lexy Koudelka, who finished with 13 points and 11 rebounds.
Then, North Scott settled in.
Rylie Rucker buried three consecutive 3-pointers to trigger a 21-2 flurry to end the half.
“We just needed someone to step in and get us going,” Rylie Rucker said. “We were working well together and sharing the ball. That’s when we play our best basketball.”
That offensive spark carried over to the defensive end of the floor.
“When Rylie hit those threes, then you could notice we relaxed and didn’t have all that pressure on us,” Case said.
The Lancers led by 14 at intermission and the margin swelled to 21 after three quarters. North Scott collected 15 steals en route to a 22-9 advantage in points off turnovers.
Many of them were layups created off deflections on the defensive end.
“With them playing only five or six girls, our game plan was just to run,” Karli Rucker said. “We got a lot of things out in transition.”
North Scott has excelled both times it has played on a larger court this season.
It beat United Township 54-42 at the IHMVCU Shootout in early January at Augustana College’s Carver Center.
“We like to get wide so we can get more shots and move the ball easier,” freshman Presley Case said. “We can get the defense moving and make them work. I think we all like playing on the bigger courts.”
Karli Rucker, the Northern Iowa signee, led three North Scott players in double figures with 20 points. It was her second-highest point total of the season. She also pulled down seven rebounds, dished out four assists and collected three steals.
“Coming into this game, we all knew we had to be aggressive,” Karli Rucker said. “We knew they were going to get tired.”
Rylie Rucker and Presley Case joined Karli in double figures with 13 and 10 points, respectively.
Ever since blowout losses to Davenport North and Pleasant Valley in January, North Scott has reeled off nine consecutive wins. Seven have come by 18 points or more.
Now North Scott is two wins from the program's first title.
“This group has done a really, really good job this year of going with the flow, not overthinking a bunch of stuff,” coach Case said. “That’s a big reason we’re doing what we’re doing.”