IMS holds off Hawks in district final
WELLMAN — In a do-or-die playoff game inside a raucous Tim Grady Gymnasium, IMS senior Cameron Gingerich looked as though he was shooting free throws inside an empty gym.
Gingerich made all six of his free throws in the final 32 seconds of Friday’s Class 1A District 7 final, helping IMS hold off Lynnville-Sully for a 58-53 win.
“I was just trying to focus and tune the crowd out,” said Gingerich, who entered the game shooting 70.8 percent from the foul line on the season. “It was pretty loud in there, and I was just trying to concentrate on the hoop and make my free throws.”
Lynnville-Sully trailed by 10 points with less than three minutes remaining, but cut the lead to one when junior Darin Hofer banked in a 3-pointer with 42 seconds left. The Hawks then fouled Gingerich, and he sank a pair of free throws to push the lead back to three. Lynnville-Sully freshman Connor Cullen quickly drained a baseline jumper to again pull the Hawks within one. Gingerich caught a long pass and was fouled going up for a layup, and he made both shots to put IMS up by three with 15.3 seconds remaining. Lynnville-Sully had one last chance to tie, but senior Nathan Russell’s long 3-pointer glanced off the right side of the rim.
“Fortunately, their last one didn’t go,” IMS head coach Dwight Gingerich said. “It looked like it was from where I was sitting, but fortunately it was a little strong.”
Fittingly, it was Cameron Gingerich who tracked down the rebound and sank two more free throws with 2.9 seconds remaining to seal the win for IMS (22-2).
“Cameron’s a clutch guy,” Dwight Gingerich said. “He came up big at the line and showed the kind of athlete he is under pressure. He’s a leader for us. He’s our captain. What a great way for him to come through.”
Cameron Gingerich went 8-for-8 at the free-throw line in the contest and finished with 15 points. Senior Peyton Thompson hit three 3-pointers and scored a game-high 26 points. Junior Reggie Hostetler had nine points and six rebounds, and junior Dallas Nye had eight points and nine boards.
Junior T.J. Cunningham scored 13 points to lead Lynnville-Sully, and Cullen added 12 points. Senior Brady Van Wyk scored 10 points, and Hofer finished with nine points on three 3-pointers.
Lynnville-Sully, which finished its season with a record of 20-4, may have lost the game in the opening minutes. The Hawks missed three layups and had one blocked by Nye in the first two minutes of the game, and IMS jumped out to a 6-0 lead.
“I think the guys were probably just a little excited early on,” Lynnville-Sully head coach Nick Harthoorn said. “We missed a few easy shots early on and got ourselves in a little bit of a hole, but we kept playing, and that’s all I can ask of our guys.”
IMS led 17-7 after one quarter of play and maintained a 10-point lead at halftime. But the Hawks, who led the South Iowa Cedar League with 134 made 3-point goals this season, got hot from beyond the arc in the second half. Hofer and Cullen made back-to-back 3-pointers and Van Wyk added a driving layup to trim the IMS lead to 32-30 late in the third quarter.
Thompson banked in a leaner and then drained a 3-pointer with seven seconds left in the quarter to give IMS a seven-point lead heading into the fourth quarter.
After the Hawks cut the lead to five early in the fourth quarter, Thompson hit another leaner and another 3-pointer. And Cunningham hit a jumper and a 3-pointer to pull the Hawks to within five with 3:31 left in the game, Thompson responded with a 3-pointer and a pair of free throws to again push his team’s lead to 10.
“Peyton came through and hit some big shots,” Dwight Gingerich said. “He showed the player that he’s become and made plays.”
But Lynnville-Sully went on a 12-3 run, capped by Hofer’s banked in 3-pointer, to trim the IMS lead to 52-51 with 42 seconds left.
“You’ve just got to keep believing,” Hofer said. “You’ve got to do what you’ve got to do to come back and make it close.”
The Hawks made it close, but Cameron Gingerich made the free throws down the stretch to seal the win.
“IMS, if you look at their stats, they’re just a great free-throw shooting team, so there’s nobody out on the floor late in the game to foul,” Harthoorn said. “They’re all excellent free-throw shooters, so you’ve got to give them credit for knocking them down.”