The hallmark of the St. Edmond boys during their runs to state tournament appearances has been defense and free throw shooting.
The Gaels relied on those two staples once again here Thursday night, earning a 57-48 victory over South Hamilton in a Class 2A, District 3 semifinal.
Robby Burke scored 17 points, David Flattery added 16 and St. Edmond (14-8 overall) limited the Hawks to just 34-percent shooting from the field - and 19-percent from the three-point line.
The Gaels will now face East Sac County (17-6), which defeated Manson Northwest Webster last night, 57-54. The district final will be Tuesday at 7 p.m. inside the Fort Dodge Senior High gym.
South Hamilton (13-9) jumped out quickly to a 9-8 lead after the first eight minutes, but St. Edmond found its rhythm on both ends in the second. Behind a 17-4 run, the Gaels built a lead they would never surrender.
"We really pride ourselves on our defense, and I was proud of the way the kids clamped down and beat a very tough team," SEHS head coach Adolph Kochendorfer said. "It wasn't the prettiest of wins, but we gritted it out."
ST. EDMOND 57, SOUTH HAMILTON 48
St. Edmond - David Flattery 5-10 5-7 16, Aaron Chalstrom 0-4 4-4 4, Aaron McElroy 0-0 4-4 4, Alex Mericle 2-3 3-4 7, Robby Burke 8-11 1-1 17, Eddie Doyle 1-3 5-6 7, Landon Peed 1-2 0-0 2, Cal Coleman 0-0 0-0 0, Hank Crimmins 0-0 0-0 0, Konrad Laufersweiler 0-0 0-0 0, Thomas Woodruff 0-0 0-0 0. Totals: 17-33 22-26 57.
South Hamilton - Trevor Ullestad 2-11 0-0 6, Matt Hislop 5-11 2-3 12, Justin Shepherd 3-8 2-2 9, John Hegland 3-11 4-4 10, Josh Doering 2-4 2-2 6, Andrew Wintermore 1-3 0-0 2, Lucas Olson 1-5 0-0 3, Jordan Lutjen 0-0 0-0 0, Alex Bristow 0-0 0-0 0. Totals: 17-50 10-11 48.
Quarter scores: South Hamilton led 9-8, St. Edmond led 25-16, 39-28. Three-point goals: St. Edmond 1-5 (Flattery 1-3, Chalstrom 0-2); South Hamilton 4-21 (Ullestad 2-10, Hislop 0-2, Shepherd 1-4, Wintermote 0-1, Olson 1-4). Total rebounds: St. Edmond 24, South Hamilton 23. Steals: St. Edmond 7, South Hamilton 9. Blocked shots: St. Edmond 4, South Hamilton 2. Turnovers: St. Edmond 17, South Hamilton 14. Points off turnovers: St. Edmond 9, South Hamilton 6. Team fouls: St. Edmond 13, South Hamilton 20.
Burke hit 5 of 6 in the second quarter and posted 11 points, as the Gaels connected on 7 of 11 shots from the floor. It was more of the same in the third, with St. Edmond making 5 of 8 field goals.
"During halftime, we talked about keeping the intensity up in the third because we've had several games this year where we've let it get away from us in the third," Kochendorfer said. "Robby did an excellent job against (Josh) Doering, and I thought we made (John) Hegland work for everything."
Hegland, who entered the game averaging 18 a night, scored 10, but eight of those game in the final quarter when the Hawks were never able to get closer than eight.
Along with a fine performance from the field, the Gaels hit 22 of 26 free throws, including 12-for-14 over the final eight minutes.
"Again, like our third quarter difficulties, we've struggled at times this year shooting free throws," Kochendorfer said. "We've worked really hard in practice on them here over the past week, and we put the kids in pressure situations (in practice). I think that showed their toughness (the fourth quarter free throws)."
Flattery added nine rebounds, six assists and two blocked shots, while Alex Mericle dished out six more assists. Eddie Doyle provided seven points, four boards, two steals and two blocks off the bench.
"Eddie gave us some real quality minutes, and Alex did a great job battling inside," Kochendorfer said. "We put a lot of pressure on David to bring the ball up the floor against their press, and he did a great job handling that and still looking for his shot.
"This was a good win, and hopefully we can carry the momentum over into Tuesday."
East Sac County is led by Reed Tellinghuisen, who scored 29 in the semifinal win over the Cougars. The Raiders are 6-1 in their last seven.