WAUKEE — Waukee Northwest and Waukee faced off Tuesday in what had the potential to be the boys basketball game of the year just a couple weeks into the season.
In a close, back-and-forth matchup, Northwest won its home game, 67-65, on Cade Kelderman’s game-winning basket with 1.7 seconds left
Waukee (No. 1 in the Register's Super 10 rankings) jumped out to the early lead thanks to a dunk and a 3-pointer from Omaha Biliew. The Warriors roster boasts Biliew, an Iowa State commit, the No. 1 player in Iowa and a top-20 player nationwide.
On the opposite sideline, Northwest (No. 2 in the Register's rankings) has Pryce Sandfort, an Iowa commit and the No. 2 player in the state.
Add the rivalry born in the schools’ split last season, and this had all the makings of a primetime game.
And both teams lived up to the hype.
"I don't even know how to describe it," Kelderman said of the atmosphere. "You don't have to bring the energy, the crowd brings it all for you. And if you're not ready to play in this environment, you're going to get exposed."
Despite Waukee’s early lead, it was the Wolves who held an 18-13 lead at the end of the first quarter and a 32-25 edge at the end of the first half. Waukee evened things out at one point in the third quarter, but Northwest held a narrow 50-45 lead by the end of the frame.
The Warriors weren't giving up that easily, and took the lead in the fourth. But Sandfort hit a three, giving the Wolves a one-point lead with under two minutes to play. Both teams continued to battle until the final buzzer, and Kelderman sealed the victory with his late layup for Northwest.
Kelderman finished with 30 points, a game-high between the two teams, and recorded four rebounds, three assists and three steals. Sandfort added another 10 points, seven rebounds and two blocks for the Wolves. Biliew led the Warriors with 27 points and Cooper Randall scored 17 for Waukee.
Stars slowed down in Waukee-Northwest matchup
Biliew and Sandfort were limited for very different reasons on Tuesday.
For Waukee star Biliew, he spent significant time on the bench in the first half. Biliew recorded three fouls before the midway point of the second quarter, but he tightened up his game to start the second half.
Sandfort, meanwhile, left the court and limped to the locker room in the first half. He returned for limited minutes before leaving the court again and not returning until the start of the second half. He came back out and played significant time in the third and fourth quarters, but it was evident that Sandfort was not 100%.
Both players still played well, which is what fans wanted between the former state-title-winning teammates.
But it’s hard not to wonder what this game would’ve been like if both Biliew and Sandfort were able to stay in longer.
Who were the real stars of this matchup?
Waukee’s Cooper Randall and Mason Costello were reliable scorers and took on a lot of action when Biliew was on the bench. But Vance Peiffer stood out most. While his points were limited, he finished with several blocks and was a constant presence under the net. It’s difficult to get past someone of his height. With him and Biliew back-to-back, that’s an even tougher matchup.
For Northwest, Kelderman led the team in points and was tasked with defending the Warriors’ best players, which isn’t easy when Biliew has the obvious height advantage.
"They're two incredible talents," Kelderman said of Biliew and Peiffer postgame. "It's fun to play them and we'll get to see them again and it'll be even better."
Kelderman is a no-quit player and will continue to be a difference maker for Northwest, especially if Sandfort is limited like he was tonight. Kelderman scored the game-winner, although he even credited that to his teammate.
"It felt incredible," Kelderman said. "But first, I've got to give a shoutout to Pryce. He had the defensive stop. We were tied up, he got the stop. It was like being outside in the park with my friends, just playing basketball and hitting game winners."
Alyssa Hertel is the college sports recruiting reporter for the Des Moines Register. Contact Alyssa at firstname.lastname@example.org or on Twitter @AlyssaHertel.
This article originally appeared on Des Moines Register: Late shot lifts Northwest boys basketball over Waukee, Omaha Biliew