DES MOINES - For several members of the St. Edmond boys basketball team, Tuesday's Class 2A state quarterfinal opponent is a familiar one.
The Gaels (18-6 overall) will begin their 13th state appearance this afternoon against seventh-ranked PCM-Monroe (22-2) inside Wells Fargo Arena at 12:05 p.m.
St. Edmond is the No. 7 seed after defeating second-ranked Des Moines Christian in a substate final, while the Mustangs received the No. 2 seed following their upset of top-rated West Marshall last week.
"(PCM) is a very athletic team that likes to push the ball up the floor," said SEHS head coach Adolph Kochendorfer, who guided the school to their lone state championship in 2000. "They have a lot of good athletes.
"I know I've said this several times already this year but we need to play good defense and rebound; they will go to the glass, so we have to strap it on and be ready to go."
The Gaels enter the contest on a five-game winning streak and are led by all-state senior guard Nick Clark, who became the program's all-time leading scorer earlier this year. Clark is averaging 21 points per game this year to go along with almost six assists and 4.3 steals a night. His assist-to-turnover ratio is better than 2-to-1.
St. Edmond (18-6)
G: Nick Clark, 5-11, sr., 21.0
G: Neil Flattery, 6-2, sr., 13.3
F: David Flattery, 6-3, jr., 11.8
F: Alex Mericle, 6-1, jr., 4.6
F: Robby Burke, 6-4, soph., 4.0
G: Sean O'Connor, 6-0, sr., 7.6
G: N. Vande Wall, 6-0, jr., 6.8
G: Hutch Burns, 5-9, sr., 5.2
F: Scott Bruxvoort, 6-4, sr., 22.9
F: J. Van Roekel, 6-3, sr., 13.4
Senior Neil Flattery and junior David Flattery complement Clark, as the duo average 25 points and 12 rebounds per contest. Alex Mericle, a junior, is leading St. Edmond in rebounding at eight per contest.
"We need to make PCM take tough shots and contest everything," Kochendorfer said. "We can't give them anything because they will take advantage of it."
The Mustangs are led by senior Scott Bruxvoort, a member of the all-tournament team a year ago as PCM placed third. Bruxvoort, a University of Albany recruit who missed the West Marshall contest but is expected to go at state, is averaging 23 points a night on 58 percent shooting from the floor.
Fellow classmates Jordan Van Roekel (13.4 points) and Sean O'Connor (7.6) help balance out the Mustang attack. Van Roekel (8.1 per game) and Bruxvoort (nine) are the leading rebounders, while senior Hutch Burns is tops in assists (5.3).
Along with their bronze finish a year ago, PCM-Monroe has a combined record of 9-12 at state, including a championship in 2004 over the Gaels.
The Mustangs, who are currently on an 18-game win streak, also placed fourth in '01 and '02. They have avenged their two losses this year to Pella Christian and fellow state qualifier Roland-Story.
This past fall on the football field, it was PCM that ended the season of the Gaels in the second round of state with a 17-7 victory.
"I am excited for the opportunity to face them," said Clark, who played a variety of positions on the gridiron. "We know it is going to be a hard-fought game that will be very physical, but we are ready."
The winner of St. Edmond-PCM will face either third-seeded Roland-Story (21-3) or No. 6 Clarinda (19-4) in the semifinals on Thursday at 3:45 p.m.
The finals are scheduled for Friday night at 8:05 p.m., while the consolation final is the same day at 11:45 a.m.
Contact Dana Becker at (515) 573-2141, or by email at firstname.lastname@example.org