A tough schedule once again is paying off for Cedar Rapids Xavier at tournament time.
The fifth-ranked Saints, in the state tournament for the 10th time, kept their composure during a furious late rally by Lewis Central and held on to beat the seventh-ranked Titans 50-45 in the Class 4A quarterfinals.
Sarah Dickes sank four straight free throws in the final 19.7 seconds to secure the victory and finished with 13 points to lead Xavier. Ashley Stulken added 12, while Hayley Deutmeyer and Morgan Breitbach each scored eight.
Lewis Central’s Aubrey Norville scored 14 of her 28 points in the fourth quarter to lead her team’s comeback from an 11-point deficit with just under seven minutes left.
With the 6-foot-2 Stulken forced to play cautiously because of four fouls, Lewis Central got the ball inside to Norville and she responded with five baskets on nifty turnaround moves or jump hooks.
Norville’s final bucket cut the lead to 44-41 with 1:25 left, and teammate Paige Beacom made it a three-point game again, 46-43, when she hit a short jumper in the lane with 52 seconds remaining.
Lewis Central’s Natalie Madsen then stole the ball, but the Titans gave it back on a five-second call and Dickes made her game-clinching free throws.
Norville finished 10 of 13 from the field, grabbed five rebounds and made four steals. Beacom, Madsen and Alexis Spielman each scored five points for the Titans, who finish 20-4.
Xavier advances to a semifinal game at 8:30 Thursday night with a 15-9 record. The Saints play in the Mississippi Valley Conference and eight of their losses were to Class 5A teams. The other was to Davenport Assumption, which is ranked No. 1 in Class 3A.