The St. Edmond boys will begin their trek to another state tournament berth this evening inside the comforts of their own gym.
The Gaels host South Hamilton in a Class 2A, District 3 semifinal. Tip is set for 7 p.m.
St. Edmond (13-8 overall) snapped out of a four-game funk to close out the regular season with a 76-38 victory over Eagle Grove. The four losses came by a combined total of nine points - with two being at the hands of 3A programs.
"It was important that we got the win, but I thought it was more important that we played well," said SEHS head coach Adolph Kochendorfer. "We needed that to get us going in the right direction with the postseason approaching."
Junior Robby Burke leads the Gaels in scoring and rebounding, averaging 17.3 points and nine boards per game. Senior David Flattery is right behind at 12.6 and 7.2.
The 6-foot-6 Burke is shooting 68-percent from the field, second-best in 2A among players with more than 100 attempts. Flattery has hit a team-high 40 three-pointers and is an 80-percent free throw shooter.
"We were able to get on a nice little run there which gave us a good seed in the district and that first round bye," Kochendorfer said.
Burke, Flattery, Aaron Chalstrom, Alex Mericle, Eddie Doyle and Aaron McElroy all helped St. Edmond on its run to a state runner-up finish a season ago. The Gaels, who have qualified for the elite eight 13 times, lost in the finals to Mount Vernon, 48-45.
South Hamilton (13-8) defeated Ogden last Monday to advance, 76-53. Senior John Hegland leads the Hawks in scoring at 18 per night, while also grabbing six rebounds.
"Hegland is a good player and we are going to have to make him take tough shots," Kochendorfer said. "He's not really a guard or a post player, as he likes to post up, but will also shoot the three."
Earlier this year, St. Edmond earned a 57-40 victory over South Hamilton inside the SEHS gym. Hegland was limited to eight points, as the Gaels led 30-15 at the half.
Burke scored 23 points on 9 of 13 shooting in the win, as St. Edmond shot 59-percent from the field.
"I think it's a little help to have film on them as an opponent," Kochendorfer said. "We kind of have an idea what to expect, but we still have to come out and be ready to play."
The winner advances to a district final next Tuesday against either Manson Northwest Webster (16-5) or East Sac County (16-6). That game will be held in the Fort Dodge Senior High gym.