When Cedar Rapids Xavier's Kayla Armstrong made a lay up off the opening tip, it was a sign of things to come for the Saints.
Fifth-ranked Xavier scored most of its baskets on lay ups and knocked off top-ranked Bishop Heelan of Sioux City, 68-57 to advance to the Class 4A championship game.
Armstrong finished with 22 points to lead the Saints, who'll meet No. 8 Harlan for the title at 6 p.m. Saturday. It will be Xavier's first appearance in the finals since 2007, when the Saints won their third Class 3A championship. They also won in 2003 and 2005.
Xavier earned this trip by constantly pushing the ball up the floor to beat the Crusaders to the basket. Of the Saints' 24 field goals, 16 were lay ups and three others came on putbacks.
Hayley Deutmeyer added 13 points for Xavier, Sarah Dickes scored 11 and Maddie Bertsch nine. Deutmeyer also grabbed nine rebounds, Bertsch had eight and Armstrong collected seven rebounds and handed out seven assists.
Megan McCarthy led Heelan with 16 points and seven rebounds. MaKayla Augustine scored 15 points, while Taylor Koolstra had 10 points and five assists.
Xavier built a 13-point lead midway through the third quarter, then responded each time the Crusaders threatened to get back into the game. Heelan cut the lead to six points four times but never got any closer.
The last time came when Augustine made a long 3-pointer from the left wing to cut the lead to 56-50 with 2:41 left. Deutmeyer then drove the baseline for a lay up and the Saints secured the victory by making eight of 10 free throws. Along the way, Armstrong sped down the floor for one last lay up.
Xavier advances with a 16-9 record. Heelan finishes 21-4.
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