AMES — When the boys basketball teams from Perry (17-5) and Gilbert (20-3) meet Thursday at 7 p.m. in Ames the Class 3A District 13 title will be on the line.
A win would move the victor into a Monday showdown in Johnston between either Bondurant-Farrar or DC-G in the Substate 7 Final, with that victor advancing to the state tournament.
For Perry a victory would move the team one additional win from accomplishing what no Bluejay cage team has done since 1988, when the state tourney was held at the Veteran’s Audtiorium: appear in a state quarterfinal.
To do so, the Bluejays — champions of the Raccoon River Conference — must top a Tiger team that won the Heart of Iowa Conference and boasts perhaps the speediest and most athletic lineup the Jays will have seen this season.
Being a league champion is just one of numerous statistics between the two teams that eerily mirror each other despite Gilbert having played one additional game this season.
Both teams have six seniors on their respective rosters and both scored exactly 1,532 points while also tying in total steals with 277 each. Perry has grabbed three more rebounds (733 to 730), handed out nine more assists (329 to 320) and blocked two less shots (the Tigers have swatted 95, the Jays 93) while Perry has committed 12 more turnovers (294 to 282).
The differences are more pronounced when it comes to shooting as the Tigers have proven to be the much more accurate team from both the field and, perhaps crucially, at the foul line.
Gilbert has drained 296-of-409 (72.3 percent) at the charity stripe while Perry is just 252-418 (60.3). Those numbers showed up — for both the good and bad — in Monday’s two games, as a 19-of-22 effort at the line helped Gilbert dodge Ballard, 67-61, while Perry was almost upset by Boone after finishing just 9-of-16 at the line, which included six misses in 11 shots in the final few minutes of play.
The Tigers took 120 fewer attempts beyond the 3-point arch (566 to 446) but connected on 158 (35.4 percent), just two fewer than the Jays (160 for 28.3 percent). Overall Gilbert is 539-1198 (45 percent) on all field goals while Perry is 560-1344 (41.7 percent).
Shammond Ivory (21.4 ppg), Will Whiton (12.9) and Blake Lansing (10.4) lead Perry, with Wes Greder (17.2), Jack Hoiberg (12.3) and Ryan Blum (10.4)pace Gilbert offensively. Scott James (6.9 rpg) and Whiton (5.8) lead the Jays in rebounds, with Greder (5.8) and Austin Graber (4.7) the top carom grabbers for the Tigers. James (39) and Greder (37) are strong shot blockers for their teams.
Dax Hatfield (5.9 ppg) is a speedy guard who could cause Perry trouble, with Greder (47-of-126), Blum (52-of-138) and Hoiberg (23-of-62) all deadly from 3-point land.
Both teams would prefer to score at least in the mid-60’s, so the contest will likely be decided by which defense plays with the most sustained energy and who shots the best.
Tip time, as mentioned, is 7 pm. Thursday at Ames High School.