KALONA — All that a team wants is a chance, especially in the postseason. Highland had that chance in its Iowa High School Athletic Association Class 1A District 7 boys basketball game Thursday at Iowa Mennonite School’s Hillcrest Union but Zack Lasek’s shot was off the mark and Iowa Mennonite escaped with a 64-63 win.
“As long as you are in the mix, you have a chance,” IMS coach Dwight Gingerich said. “What a great win.”
IMS, which has a record of 13-6, will play at Calamus-Wheatland (17-3) Tuesday. Highland’s season ends with a record of 12-8.
Although the game came down to the final seconds and a final shot, a case could be made that the game was won and lost when the home team went on an 8-1 run to close the first half.
“We let that opportunity slip away when we didn’t close the door on defense,” Highland coach Marcus Smart said. “It’s been an issue all year when we get a lead, we don’t step on the neck and end up letting teams back in it.”
Highland stretched a 15-12 lead at the end of the first quarter to a 32-23 lead on the third Mason McFarland 3-pointer of the second quarter with under 3 minutes before intermission. A Trevor Leyden bucket at the halftime buzzer got the IMS’ deficit to one point at 33-32.
“We tried some triangle-and-two defense on the Lasek brothers, but McFarland hit all those threes,” Gingerich said. “We tried some different defenses and just kept alternating those.”
By the end of the third quarter it was IMS 52-51.
“The drive was there for us and we were getting a lead sometimes, but never got control,” Gingerich said.
While Highland had led for all of the first half after pulling away from a 7-7 tie, IMS scored the first bucket of the second half to regain the lead. Highland went up by five, then IMS led 41-40. The lead changed hands several times with Highland up by as much as three, but IMS was never ahead by more than one until taking a 62-60 lead with 2:13 left. It was 64-60 IMS on a Jeremy Niemeyer bucket with 44 seconds left.
Highland’s Cole Adamson hit a triple with 6 seconds left. A missed IMS free throw with 5 seconds remaining set up Lasek’s shot.
“As coaches, we need to get the guys better looks,” Hall said. “You can look at the end of the game, but there were places when we had a lead we got sloppy and made turnovers we shouldn’t have. You can’t do that in playoff games.”
Cole Ours led IMS with 19 points. Leyden had 13 points while Kobe Borntrager had 12 and Niemeyer 11.
Zack Lasek led all scorers with 25 points. McFarland’s five triples accounted for his 15 points. Brody Burton added eight.