Eagles fly higher than River Hawks
DES MOINES – The fourth-seeded Keota High School boys’ basketball team won its Class 1A state tournament quarterfinal game over the Easton Valley River Hawks, 56 – 47 at Wells Fargo Arena on Monday, March 10. While nine points appears to be a comfortable lead, the journey to that final score was anything but comfortable for the Eagles.
Both teams traded missed opportunities at the offensive end through the first eight minutes of play and the first quarter ended in a tie at 11. Most of the second quarter went much of the same way, as the game was tied at 21 heading into the final two minutes of the first half.
“I thought we were getting good looks in the first half, we just weren’t getting the ball to fall into the hoop. We had some pre-game jitters that took us some time to get through as well,” Keota head coach Dan Stout said.
It was at that point that the River Hawks got going offensively, going on a 9 – 1 run to open up a 30 – 22 lead heading into the final minute of play. Keota answered with strong play by junior Nate Owen and senior Kolton Greiner to go on a 5 – 0 run just before the half ended, making the score at the break 30 – 27, Easton Valley leading.
The Eagles picked right up where they left off to start the third quarter, extending their run to 10 – 0 and taking a 32 – 30 lead. It was at that point that the River Hawks would begin to force Keota turnovers and build a 41 – 36 lead. Greiner hit a 3-point shot for Keota as the third quarter clock expired, making the score at the beginning of the fourth quarter 41 – 39, River Hawks’ advantage.
No fouls were called on Easton Valley in the third quarter, but the pendulum swung back the other way in the final eight-minute period. Keota sophomore Isaiah Hahn tied the game at 41 with a pair of free-throws. Sophomore Zach Mousel hit a 3-point shot on the next possession to give the Eagles a 44 – 41 lead. Greiner followed that with a traditional 3-point play to increase the edge to 47 – 41. Ill-advised passes by the River Hawks and stellar free-throw shooting by Keota combined to allow the Eagles to put the nails in Easton Valley’s coffin.
“In the fourth quarter we really cranked up the defensive pressure. They looked a little weary from the grind of the game and we were able to take advantage of it. We did a great job of getting to the free-throw line and sinking those shots,” Stout explained.
As a team Keota shot 31 percent from the field (15/48), 7/21 from 3-point territory and 19/26 from the charity stripe. The Eagles outrebounded the River Hawks 41 – 37. Keota’s other totals were 10 assists, four steals and a block.
Greiner led the Eagles with 21 points and had one of Keota’s four steals. Senior Luke Lyle scored 10 points. Lyle also led the team in rebounds with 15 and assists with four. Mousel finished with eight points. Owen added six points. Senior Justin Hultman contributed five points. Senior Derek Berg had four points and Hahn finished the scoring with his two points.
“Zach Mousel had an awesome game. We had three guys come off the bench today and Mousel got the most minutes because he is the best 3-point shooter of the three. He certainly delivered for us,” Stout commented.
Keota improves to 25 – 1 on the season. The Eagles will play on Thursday, March 13 at 10:30 a.m. in the Class 1A state semifinals. Their opponent is the eighth-seeded West Lyon Wildcats.
“West Lyon has some great size and athleticism inside. We have our work cut out for us but we’re going to practice up and do our best to get ready,” Stout added.
If Keota defeats West Lyon, they would play on Friday, March 14 at 6:05 p.m. against the winner of the No. 7 Belmond-Klemme/No. 3 Dunkerton game for the Class 1A state championship. If the Eagles lose, they would play on Friday, March 14 at 10 a.m. against the loser of the Belmond-Klemme/Dunkerton game for third place in Class 1A.