Boys Basketball: Sagan Leads Vinton-Shellsburg To State

By Douglas Miles and Josh Christensen, Reporters

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By Grant Burkhardt

CEDAR FALLS, Iowa — The season of all seasons continued for the Vinton-Shellsburg boys’ basketball team Monday night, and now it’s on to Des Moines.

Grant Sagan led all scorers with 24 points and Max Kearns added 14 as the Vikings remained perfect, vanquishing the Crestwood Cadets, 65-56, in a Class 3A substate final at the McLeod Center.

“It’s a dream come true,” Vinton-Shellsburg Coach Joe Johnson said. “These kids have put in so much time and energy and effort, to see it able to pay off for them like this, it’s just awesome.”

The second state tournament berth in school history (1996) erases lingering memories of the Vikings’ last trip to the McLeod Center — last year’s substate final loss to Western Dubuque.

“This is the best day of my life,” Kearns said as he cradled the state qualifier banner. “I put the wallpaper on my phone, was Western Dubuque celebrating with this banner in this gym. It was motivation, made me want to work harder.”

After trailing for most of the first quarter, Vinton-Shellsburg (24-0) ran off seven straight points early in the second to take a 24-18 lead, sparked by a steal and breakaway layup by Sagan.

“Of course defense is a huge thing for us,” Sagan said. “We just wanted to come back out here for our community who supports us every day and just get the win, which we did.”

Up 30-25 at halftime, the Vikings charged out of the locker room with a 12-3 start to the third quarter, most of which with Sagan getting a breather on the bench. The floor leader Kearns put on a dazzling display of drives to the basket, scoring back-to-back buckets to extend the Vikings’ lead to 14 at 42-28 with two minutes left in the third quarter.

“I knew that if we were going to take this game over that I had to step up,” Kearns said.

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