IMS suffers rare substate loss
VAN HORNE — North Tama was in a unique situation. IMS was in a rare one.
The Redhawks raised a state qualifier banner in boys’ basketball for the first time in school history with their 55-46 win over IMS in Saturday’s Class 1A Substate 4 final, which was played at Benton Community High School.
“It’s the first time in school history,” North Tama head coach Brandon Clubb said. “To beat a team like IMS to go to state, it means a little more. I grew up in Williamsburg, and I know the history.”
IMS, which fell just short of its 13th state tournament appearance, made a rare substate exit.
“I think we had been 12 out of 14 in substate games coming into tonight,” IMS head coach Dwight Gingerich said. “So it’s 12 out of 15 now.”
Facing a much taller North Tama squad, IMS was forced to hoist outside shots. Even then IMS’ shooters constantly had a hand in their face, and they missed their first 11 shots from beyond the 3-point arc.
“We just guarded them tight,” North Tama senior Nolan Hefty said. “We knew who their jump shooters were. We knew that [Peyton Thompson] is a heck of a player. We knew we had to put our great defender on him. That’s what we did.”
Thompson, who entered Saturday’s game averaging 19.9 points per game, had to work hard to score 11.
“They played great defense,” Thompson said. “I think they had one guy just stuck on me that whole game. It was hard for me to get the ball just to bring it up.”
Meanwhile, the sixth-ranked Redhawks exploited their height advantage, going inside early and often. And if North Tama missed, they got the rebound and put it back. North Tama scored 13 second-chance points in the first half and led 25-18 at the break.
“One thing we’ve done pretty well all year is using our size,” Clubb said. “Even if we miss baskets, we get easy putbacks. We knew we had the size advantage [against IMS]. We just kept telling our kids, ‘Don’t just stand and watch. Get in there and get that offensive rebound.’ We really did a good job of that tonight.”
North Tama out-scored IMS 17-6 in the third quarter and took an 18-point lead into the final period. IMS junior Dallas Nye opened the fourth quarter by making his team’s first 3-pointer of the game, and the basket seemed to open the floodgates for IMS. Nye added a conventional three-point play seconds later, and then senior Justin Boller and Thompson added 3-pointers to cut the Redhawks’ lead to seven.
Hefty made a pair of free throws at the other end, and Nye answered with a short jumper. Nye then blocked a shot, but the ball deflected right to Hefty, who laid it in. Thompson drained a 3-pointer to trim North Tama’s lead to six with 3:16 remaining, and IMS had a chance to further cut into the Redhawks’ lead after they turned the ball over, but a Thompson 3-pointer was off the mark. North Tama went 8-for-10 from the free-throw line the rest of the way to seal the win and its first-ever trip to state.
“We made a flurry there in the fourth quarter, but it was a little too late and we couldn’t quite sustain it,” Gingerich said. “I liked the effort, but we couldn’t quite get it done.”
IMS, which entered the game shooting 35 percent from 3-point range, finished 5-for-24 from beyond the arc.
Nye scored 12 points and grabbed seven rebounds to lead IMS. Thompson finished with 11 points, and senior Cameron Gingerich had nine.
Mitch Boerm, a 6-foot-6 senior, scored a game-high 23 points and grabbed nine rebounds to lead North Tama. Hefty, also a 6-foot-6 senior, added 19 points and 11 rebounds.
North Tama (25-1) is seeded third in next week’s Class 1A state tournament. The Redhawks will face sixth-seeded Ankeny Christian (24-1) in a state quarterfinal at Wells Fargo Arena in Des Moines at 3:45 p.m. on Monday, March 4. IMS, on the other hand, finishes its season with a record of 22-3.
“I guess most of our guys aren’t used to this right now,” Thompson said, “but we had a great year.”