HUXLEY - The game plan for Ballard in its Class 3A substate quarterfinal game was to get the ball to center Connor Drew early and often.


Drew took advantage of his 6-6 frame to complete decimate Knoxville inside, leading the Bombers to a 79-60 victory.


Drew went off for a career-high 33 points just four days after scoring 32 in a 57-49 win over North Polk. Drew was an impressive 14 of 18 from the field to help Ballard improve to 13-9 and advance to the substate semifinals against Bondurant-Farrar tonight back at Huxley.


“My teammates keep getting me the ball and I keep rebounding the basketball really well,” Drew said. “Our inside is really what’s been getting us going. When you have kick-out shooters like we have you can’t really collapse down low. It’s just really good teamwork all the way around.”


Drew also ripped down 14 rebounds and blocked five shots.


The first half was when Drew was his most deadly. He put up an impressive 25 points over the first two quarters to help Ballard take a 42-30 lead into the locker room.


Knoxville fought back to within eight points by the end of the third quarter. A Kieren Nichols hoop closed the gap to 59-54 early in the fourth quarter.


But Ballard showed great poise down the stretch. Drew scored inside, Isaiah Deason converted a putback and Max Olsan scored on a drive, then hit two free throws to stretch the Bomber lead to 67-56 with three minutes left.


Olsan’s two fouls shots started a string of 11-consecutive makes from the line for Ballard down the final stretch. That combined with a great defensive effort that limited Knoxville to four points in the final three minutes to enable the Bombers to easily pull away.


“We just locked down defensively, moved the ball and made our free throws,” Deason said. “We got the ball down low, finished everything and just played really well together.”


The win was a big first step for Ballard in its quest to reach state for the first time since 2005.


“This is our dream,” Deason said. “To keep on going until the state tournament.”


Olsan had 14 points and two steals, Deason 10 points and eight rebounds and Mason Murphy eight points and five assists to help Ballard advance. Chase Winterboer hit two 3-pointers and chipped in six points.


Knoxville finished the season at 8-14. Nichols paced the Panthers with 23 points and four assists, Elliott Schmidt added 15 points and 10 rebounds and R.J. Roberts tacked on 10 points.


Ballard 79, Knoxville 60


K 15 15 17 13 - 60


B 28 14 15 22 - 79


Knoxville (60) - Kieren Nichols 11-22 0-0 23, Ethan Schmidt 4-9 6-6 15, R.J. Roberts 3-8 3-5 10, Ben Olson 2-6 0-0 5, Cristian Magana 1-4 1-2 4, Tyler Vaske 1-2 0-0 3, Marcus Wilkins 0-0 0-0 0, Ethan Murra 0-1 0-0 0, Alex Eckert 0-0 0-0 0, Mike Hudson 0-0 0-0 0. Totals: 22-52 10-13 60. 3-point field goals (6): Nichols, Schmidt, Roberts, Olson, Magana, Vaske. Rebounds (27): Schmidt 10. Assists (6): Nichols 4. Steals (1): Schmidt. Blocks: None. Fouls: 21.


Ballard (79) - Connor Drew 14-18 4-10 33, Max Olsan 4-15 5-6 14, Isaiah Deason 4-4 2-2 10, Mason Murphy 1-5 6-7 8, Chase Winterboer 2-9 0-0 6, Kale Krogh 1-1 0-0 2, Ashton Hermann 1-4 0-0 2, Reece Huen 0-0 2-2 2, Seth Wohlgemuth 0-0 2-2 2, Henry Thompson 0-0 0-0 0, Drake Wunder 0-0 0-0 0. Totals: 27-56 21-29 79. 3-point field goals (4): Winterboer 2, Drew, Olsan. Rebounds (36): Drew 14. Assists (14): Murphy 5. Steals (2): Olsan 2. Blocks (5): Drew 5. Fouls: 12.


HUXLEY - Ballard used a strong second half to get past non-conference rival North Polk, 57-49, in its final regular season game Feb. 14 at Huxley.


The Bombers outscored the Comets 33-20 over the final two quarters to pull off the rivalry win and finish the regular season at 12-9.


The third quarter was Ballard’s best stretch. The Bombers outscored the Comets 14-5 in the period to go up by four and they continued to roll offensively in the fourth quarter, keeping North Polk at bay.


Ballard shot 54 percent from the field and held North Polk to 36-percent shooting. The Bombers also forced 13 turnovers and only committed eight, helping them overcome the Comets’ 9-1 edge in 3-pointers.


Connor Drew turned in a monster game for Ballard individually. Drew went for 32 points on 12 of 17 shooting from the field, and he also pulled down 10 rebounds and blocked a shot.


Mason Murphy dished out 10 assists and delivered two points and two steals for the Bombers. Max Olsan tallied 11 points and three rebounds and Isaiah Deason 10 points, three boards and two assists.


North Polk fell to 5-14. Cam Markert had nine points, 12 rebounds, three steals and a block; Jevin Sullivan 14 points and five rebounds and Colten Parkins 12 points and five boards for the Comets.


Ballard 57, North Polk 49


NP 21 8 5 15 - 49


B 16 8 14 19 - 57


North Polk (49) - Jevin Sullivan 5-9 0-0 14, Colten Parkins 4-13 0-0 12, Cam Markert 4-13 1-3 9, Braden Hoksbergen 3-8 0-0 7, Sam Carstensen 1-3 1-2 3, Quinten Sommers 1-2 0-0 2, Quinton McArthur 1-2 0-0 2, Coby Bouchard 0-0 0-0, Thomas Jones 0-0 0-0 0, Trevor Mathis 0-0 0-0 0, Luke McCoy 0-2 0-0 0. Totals: 19-52 2-5 49. 3-point field goals (9): Sullivan 4, Parkins 4, Hoksbergen. Rebounds (30): Markert 12. Assists (9): Parkins 4. Steals (6): Markert 3. Blocks (2): Markert, Hoksbergen. Fouls: 16. Fouled out: Markert.


Ballard (57) - Connor Drew 12-17 8-11 32, Max Olsan 5-7 0-2 11, Isaiah Deason 5-7 0-2 10, Mason Murphy 0-3 2-4 2, Reece Huen 1-3 0-2 2, Chase Winterboer 0-4 0-0 0, Ashton Hermann 0-0 0-0 0, Kale Krogh 0-1 0-0 0, Seth Wohlgemuth 0-0 0-0 0. Totals: 23-42 10-21 57. 3-point field goals (1): Olsan. Rebounds (30): Drew 10. Assists (19): Murphy 10. Steals (6): Murphy 2. Blocks (2): Drew, Krogh. Fouls: 10.