Cedar Rapids Xavier never trailed in its Class 4A quarterfinal. But the Saints could never relax, either, and finally escaped with a 62-55 victory over Central De Witt in a game that produced thrilling moments for fans on both sides.

The game also showcased two outstanding freshmen – Libby Fandel of Xavier and Lauren Walker of Central De Witt. It’s unlikely either team would have made it this far without them.

Fandel, a lanky 6-footer, fashioned an impressive line of 12 points, seven rebounds, five assists and four steals. And she was right in the middle of a quick burst that gave Xavier (18-6) the cushion it needed to hold on.

The Saints were clinging to a 53-50 lead when Fandel hit a jumper with 3:31 left. Then she intercepted the inbounds pass and fed Kyla Mason for a layup that made it 57-50. Mason finished with 14 points on 7-for-11 shooting to lead Xavier.

Allison Meadows’ driving layup drew the Sabers to 57-54 and Reagan Hofer’s free throw made it a two-point game with 58.9 seconds left. Xavier then worked the ball around the Sabers’ trapping defense until Maddie Steger found Mason for a layup with 35 seconds to play.

Fandel’s steal and Mary Kate Moeder’s free throw stretched the lead to 60-55, enough to send the Saints to the semifinals, where they’ll play top-seeded Dallas Center-Grimes at 5 p.m. Thursday. Xavier is looking for its fifth state championship under coach Tom Lilly, who has been the Saints’ coach for 24 seasons.

Meadows led Central De Witt (19-5) with 18 points. Walker had 16 points on 6-for-8 shooting to go with three rebounds and two steals, while Taylor Veach had 10 points, five rebounds and two blocks.

Xavier led by as many as 11 points in the first half, but the Sabers refused to fold. They’d get within two possessions of the lead, Xavier would increase its lead and then the Sabers would come back again. But they never got closer than that two-point deficit in the final minute.