By Jeff Webster
GILBERT — During the course of the regular season, Perry scored 134 more combined points in the second half of games than did Boone, but on Monday the Bluejays barely dodged disaster when the Toreadors outscored the Jays, 37-33, after the break to nearly pull off the upset.
Perry’s 54-52 victory sends the Bluejays (17-5) into the Class 3A District 13 Final against Gilbert (19-3) Thursday at Ames. Gilbert was nearly upset as well, as Ballard rallied from a 16-point deficit before falling, 67-61, in the other D13 Semifinal.
The winner of the Perry vs. Gilbert game will battle either Bondurant-Farrar or DC-G March 2 at Johnston in the Substate 7 Final. That contest, like those played Thursday, will begin at 7 p.m.
Boone (6-15) had fallen to Perry by scores of 71-45 and 59-47 during the regular season and achieved their aim of turning the third tilt between the Raccoon River Conference rivals into a physical battle with scoring in the low 50s.
Perry started well and led, 13-7, after one frame, before both teams struggled through respective 8-point second periods to set the halftime score at 21-15 in favor of the Jays.
In both prior meetings it was a decided edge on the scoreboard in the third quarter that had propelled Perry to victory, and Monday’s game appeared to be breaking in similar fashion, as the Jays sped to a 32-18 lead midway through the stanza.
At that point Boone switched to a full course press and were quite physical with the Perry ball handlers, which the officials allowed. That appeared to rattle the Jays, who committed numerous turnovers as the Toreadors closed to within 38-26 with eight minutes still to play.
Three-point baskets from Ethan Lewis and Danny Anderson and strong play off the bench from freshman John Herrick fueled a Boone run that saw the Toreadors close to within 50-48 before Perry made just enough free throws (the Jays sank just 9-of-16) in the waning minutes to escape with the win.
Ryan Rathje hit a pair of free throws down the stretch and came up with a key rebound of a missed foul shot by teammate Shammond Ivory to aid Perry’s cause.
Scott James also helped keep Boone at bay in the final 30 seconds with a pair of blocked shots to deny inside baskets. The 6-6 senior finished with five rejections for Perry.
Ivory led the Jays with 14 points, with Blake Lansing adding 13 and Kyle Nevitt 10. Will Whiton had seven points, with James and Rathje adding five points apiece.
Anderson and Herrick had 11 points apiece for Boone, with Ashton Clemons scoring 10 points.