Keota one win away
Watching an artist work with a piece of marble is interesting. You discover that the artist can strike the stone a hundred times and there’s no visible difference. On the 101st blow, however, the unwanted section falls off just as the artist desired. It wasn’t that 101st blow that separated the sections of rock, but rather all the blows that led up to that point. In the same way, many high school basketball games are not won because of the shot that makes the difference in the score, but because of all the little things that don’t go on a stat sheet.
That was the case for the eighth-ranked in Class 1A Keota High School varsity boys’ basketball team on Thursday, Feb. 27 in the Class 1A District 9 championship game. Through four quarters of hard-fought basketball the Eagles prevailed over the BGM Bears on a neutral court at Mid-Prairie High School 57 – 52.
Keota senior Luke Lyle drained a three to score the first points of the game after nearly two minutes of missed shot attempts by both teams had passed. Senior Derek Berg followed that up with a steal and layup to give the Eagles a 5 – 0 lead nearly three minutes into the contest. Through the rest of the quarter BGM and Keota would trade baskets and the second quarter began with the Eagles holding a 10 – 8 lead.
“That’s one of the things about facing a team for the third time, all the kids know what each other are going to do. It took us a while to get adjusted,” Keota head coach Dan Stout said.
Keota’s offensive aggression led to a few turnovers and the Bears got hot from behind the arc to start out the second quarter. Those two factors combined to put BGM on a 7 – 4 run to put the Bears up 15 – 14 with 3:18 remaining in the first half. Keota took a timeout and Lyle hit another 3-pointer to put the Eagles back up 17 – 15. Keota forced a turnover then Lyle took the inbound pass off a Bear deflection out of bounds and hit a jumper on which he got fouled. Lyle hit the free-throw to complete his personal 6 – 0 run, increasing the Eagle lead to 20 – 15. BGM answered with a 6 – 2 run to finish the half and cut Keota’s lead to razor-thin at 22 – 21.
The Eagles came out on a 7 – 2 run to take a 29 – 23 lead in the first minute and a half of the third quarter. From there on out, however, it was all Bears throughout most of the third quarter. BGM would get a 3-pointer to take a 30 – 29 lead with 5:34 remaining and then expand upon that in the following minutes to go up 39 – 33 with less than two minutes remaining in the quarter. Keota would go on a run of its own to end the quarter with the Bears leading 39 – 37.
“They [BGM] really adjusted well in the third quarter. We haven’t been down like that all season. I was proud of the way our kids kept their composure. We have a lot of seniors and they didn’t fold up,” Stout commented.
The Eagles got the ball to start the fourth quarter and junior Nate Owen hit a turnaround jumper to tie the game at 39. A steal and layup by senior Kolton Greiner gave the Eagles a 41 – 39 lead with 5:38 remaining. Greiner would follow that up with another layup to put Keota up 43 – 39 with a 3:58 left. From there on out it was all a matter of making free-throws for the Eagles, which they did quite efficiently.
“Every time we needed a steal or a bucket one of our players got it. This is a group of players who have been together for years and they know each other very well,” Stout added.
Keota improves to 23 – 1 on the season. The Eagles move on to the Substate Five bracket and will face Van Buren on Saturday, March 1 at Oskaloosa High School. Van Buren received votes in the final Class 1A poll but finished unranked. The winner of that game goes to the Class 1A state tournament.
“We’re going to get after it tomorrow. We’ve watched them [Van Buren] play a few times this year and we know what they like to do. They play a 1-3-1 defense with half-court traps. They have some great size inside and they love to feed those guys the ball on offense. We’ll shoot around and go over a few things. We’ll do what we can to prepare, head up there on Saturday and let things take care of themselves. We’re glad to have a chance,” Stout explained.
Lyle led the Eagles in scoring with 16 points and rebounds with 12. Greiner added 14 points and led Keota with four assists. Owen had nine points in the game and also had four assists to match Greiner. Berg contributed six points and led Keota with five steals. Senior Justin Hultman and sophomore Zach Mousel both scored four points. Sophomores Isaiah Hahn and Nate Sieren added two points each to round out the scoring for the Eagles.