DES MOINES — The North Scott boys’ basketball team has made a habit of imposing its will on opponents this season.
At some point of the game, the Lancers have the belief they'll break the other team's spirit.
After North Scott and Ames traded punches in the first half Tuesday night, the Class 4A second-ranked Lancers threw the haymaker in the second half.
Powered by a 17-2 flurry in the third quarter and beginning of the fourth, North Scott moved into the semifinals with a 56-38 triumph over Ames at Wells Fargo Arena.
“We talked in the locker room at halftime about coming out with that third punch and making it stick,” North Scott senior Reece Sommers said.
The Lancers turned a three-point deficit into a 12-point advantage as they won their fifth consecutive game.
North Scott faces defending state champion Cedar Falls (19-3) at 6:30 p.m. Thursday. The Tigers cruised past Sioux City East in their quarterfinal, 63-41.
“They’re a really good team, but we’re looking forward to it,” North Scott’s Ty Anderson said.
Just like its substate wins over Pleasant Valley and Cedar Rapids Prairie, North Scott seized control of the game in the second half.
Athleticism, continuity, discipline and experience attribute to that.
“We feel we have good enough athletes and a high enough basketball IQ we’re pretty tough to beat if we stay together for 32 minutes,” North Scott coach Shamus Budde said.
The difference Tuesday was keeping its nucleus on the floor and ramping up the defense.
North Scott (23-1) had three starters with multiple fouls in the first half — Sam Kilburg (three), Anderson (two) and Cortaviaus Seales (two). It required Budde to use Landon Eiland and Trent Allard for substantial minutes in the second quarter.
The Lancers never subbed in the second half until the game was out of reach.
“The (fouls) were the main reason it was a close game in the first half,” Anderson said. “If we keep our guys on the floor, that’s the main key. We have a bond that is great and a great coach.”
Ames highly touted freshman point guard Tamin Lipsey and Wisconsin-Green Bay recruit Japannah Kellogg combined for 14 points in the opening half. The duo had only five after intermission.
“We couldn’t put together enough offense,” Ames coach Vance Downs said. “We never really got back to those inside (post) touches that we needed that got them in foul trouble in the first half.
“We really started relying on Tamin’s penetration, but they really started sagging and unfortunately we couldn’t knock down threes.”
North Scott held Ames (17-5) to just two two-point baskets in the closing two quarters. The Little Cyclones were 5 of 24 from beyond the arc.
“I think containing the point guard was big,” Seales said. “He’s young but very good. He’s quick, he knows how to use pace, knows how to get to the rim and find his guys. We were just finishing plays and getting stops on defense.”
The Lancers turned it into offense.
Seales triggered the game-deciding surge with a 3-pointer from the right corner. Anderson and Kilburg followed with baskets before Sommers knocked down a trey to force an Ames timeout.
“Once we were able to hit those threes, it spread them out defensively,” Budde said. “We were able to get to the rim a little bit more, something we weren’t able to do in the first half.”
North Scott finished it at the foul line. Budde’s team was 16 of 20, including 8 of 8 from Seales.
Seales led the Lancers with 15 points and four assists. Anderson tallied 13 points and nine rebounds while Sommers also had 13 points.
It was gratifying for North Scott after losing in the quarterfinals a year ago to West Des Moines Valley.
“We didn’t play like we wanted to last year, but we came here more solid and more patient,” Sommers said. “When we’re all together and have our energy going, we’re going to be tough to beat.”
The Lancers are two wins from their second state championship in five years.
“We didn’t want to come up here just to play three games,” Seales said. “We want to come up here and win it all. We know the team we’re playing in the (next round) is good.
"If we stay locked in and continue to get stops, we'll be good."