AHS basketball makes its presence known at state

Packed gyms every night, two state ranked teams and Division I coaches in attendance. This is the best way to describe Ames High’s basketball this season. This year has been a much different year than before for the Little Cyclone boys and girls basketball teams. Both teams were CIML Iowa conference champions and also emerged as top contenders for the state title during the regular season. The girls defeated Waterloo West in the substate semifinal and #6 Johnston in a hard fought final game to reach the state tournament. The Little Cyclone girls have reached the state tournament twice since 2005. Senior point guard Trisha Nesbitt is the only player on the team with state tournament experience as she was on the tournament team of 2007 her sophomore year. In the first round of the state tournament the girls faced a tough Ankeny team. In a back and forth game the girls edged out a 45-40 win. Kionna Kellogg led the team with 12 points and 10 rebounds and hit crucial free throws in the final two minutes to seal the first round victory. A tough test awaited the Cyclones as they went up against the top ranked Linn-Mar Lions. At 24-0 going into the semifinal game against Ames, Linn-Mar had everything to lose. Ames started off slow in the first half but closed the deficit to only two at the half. With Nesbitt in foul trouble most of the third quarter senior teammate Taylor Slotter hit a couple big baskets for Ames to keep it a close game. Nesbitt, eager to get back on the court, came through in the end of regulation making a crucial game tying lay up as time expired. In overtime it was all Little Cyclones as they pulled off the upset win 45-39. This win is perhaps the biggest upset in girls basketball history at Ames High. With this win the Little Cyclone girls advanced to the state championship game. This marked the first time the girls had reached the state finals in school history. The girls took on Sioux City North last Saturday. This was the final game for the senior girls on the team. The girls gave it everything they had but fell just short of winning the 4A title losing 51-45. This is a team that people will remember a long time from now. Nobody expected them to get as far as they did. They shocked the state finishing second and the team is looking forward to another exciting season next year. Undefeated headed into the state tournament, the boys are looking for their first title since 1991 back when Fred Hoiberg ruled the Ames High Gym. Now eighteen years later, it’s Harrison Barnes leading the Ames’ attack. Last season in the substate final game against Marshalltown, the Little Cyclones were upset on a last second shot by Chance Creekmur. Going into the postseason this year, this memory was surely on the mind of Ames players. “We came in knowing what to expect and were better prepared this year,” senior point guard Bubu Palo said. After missing more than half the regular season due to academic suspension, Palo, more energized than ever, stepped right back into place his first game back against Des Moines Lincoln with an electrifying dunk. The guys cruised past the Railsplitters and easily defeated Roosevelt to advance to the state tournament and ending the long drought. The team has proven that they can blow by just about every CIML team, but the competition gets much tougher at the state tournament. “These are the last games we will play in high school with each other,” senior guard Tyler Crandell said. “We are going to do whatever it takes to win at state. This has been an exciting time for Ames High basketball.” The Little Cyclones were finally ready to show everybody that they were for real at the state tournament. Putting up big numbers night in and night out, rebounding over opponents, and playing tough nosed defense has been the name of the game thus far for Ames. The #1 seeded Cyclones took on the #8 seed Iowa City West Trojans in the first round Wednesday. Ames High basketball has been the talk of Iowa all season long and is now amongst one of the top teams in the entire nation.