DES MOINES — Albia knew it had a big problem going into the Class 2A Boys State Basketball Tournament. Six feet and 7 inches of a problem, to be precise.
Did senior Taylor Feenstra used every bit of his 6-7 frame to rack up a 26-point, 20-rebound double for top-ranked Western Christian Monday night? Yes. Did the Wolfpack also attack the Blue Demons from the perimeter, hitting 60 percent of their field goals in the opening half including six 3-pointers? Yes.
Did that mean Albia went down in the Class 2A State Quarterfinals without putting up much of a fight? Absolutely not.
Unlike their previous trip in 2007, the Blue Demons proved on Monday that they can play with some of the best teams in the state as a strong third-quarter charge had Albia fans rocking the well deep into the second half. Despite cutting a 22-point halftime deficit down to 10, Albia could not overcome the unbeaten Wolfpack who managed to stretch out the final margin to 76-53 before the final buzzer sounded.
Not without a real fight from the Blue Demons, which ended a 17-8 season on a valiant note.
“It’s not enough for us to just be here (at state) anymore. We want to make something out of it,” Albia senior Zach Hugen said. “I have heart. Our team has heart. We know we’re talented enough to come back and that’s what we did. We came out in the second half to give all we got.”
Hugen fired home the first two shots that started an emotionally-charged third quarter surge for the Blue Demons. The senior fired in back-to-back 3-pointers to pull Albia within 48-30 less than two minutes into the second half.
“My shot was feeling good and I knew that, when they’re double-teaming Matt (Baker), guys have to step it up,” Hugen said. “It’s the way it’s been for us this entire season. We need three guys in the rotation to step up and score.”