Among a crowd of cheering fans, the Waukee boys basketball team made history Thursday night by punching the program’s first-ever state title game ticket.
Now, it only seems fitting that the most important game in the program’s history comes against a team who not only has taken the postseason by storm, but has presented Waukee with their closest all-time series match up. Coming into tonight’s action, Waukee holds a narrow 9-8 all-time series lead over the Hawks dating back to the 2006 season. Even the past five match-ups have been close with Waukee winning three out of the last five. The last match-up between these two teams however ended in a 58-52 Ankeny victory.
Scoring-wise, Waukee had averaged nearly 59 points per contest, edging out Ankeny by nearly an average of eight points per contest within the series. Waukee enters as the fourth seed in the Class 4A bracket while Ankeny enters as the sixth seed. Both teams have had to go through quite the gauntlet with Waukee having gone through fifth-seeded North Scott and top-seeded Ankeny Centennial while Ankeny High School had to go through third-seeded Iowa City West and second-seeded (and 2019 4A champion) Cedar Falls.
Waukee still holds the overall scoring edge averaging 71 points per game across the 2019-20 campaign while the Ankeny Hawks are averaging 63.7 points per contest. For the Warriors, their path to the title game has been largely aided by juniors Payton Sandfort and Tucker DeVries. DeVries comes into the contest averaging 20 points per game while Sandfort has averaged 19.7 points per game. The pair have posted 538 and 492 points respectively, the top two marks individually across the Class 4A state tournament field. Right behind both of them with a tournament-best 23.8 points per game is Ankeny senior Braxton Bayless. The Hawks sharpshooter is shooting 55 percent from the floor entering tonight’s contest and shooting at a clip of 43.8 percent from beyond the three-point arc.
In looking for the ways to win, Waukee will most likely focus heavily on Bayless who leads the Hawks in nearly ever statistical category. Along with being the team’s leading scorer, Bayless leads the hawks with 87 assists, steals with 42, and even off the glass where he’s averaging 6.8 rebounds per contest. Meanwhile the Warriors are a little bit more dispersed even with DeVries also leading Waukee in the assists category (4.8 per contest). Sandfort has proven both effective from long range and short range which includes the rebounding where he leads the team averaging 8.7 per outing, currently third-best across the current Class 4A tournament field.
The battle for the Class 4A crown will begin tonight from Wells Fargo Arena beginning at 8:35 p.m. You can catch quarter updates and a full game recap at www.adelnews.com