WATERLOO — Waterloo East is starting to believe it belongs.
Following up its overtime win over crosstown rival Waterloo West on Friday, the Trojans shook off a slow start, controlled the third quarter and then got two free throws from Tyrese Nickelson with 2.2 seconds left to beat Linn-Mar, 70-68, Tuesday at the Fred J. Miller Gymnasium in Mississippi Valley Conference boys’ basketball action.
The victory is East’s fifth in six games and improves its record to 8-8 overall.
“The win over West gave us a big boost,” Nickelson said. “Gave us some confidence and I think we will be good from now on.”
The Trojans trailed by as many as 11 points in the first half, 33-22, as the Lions drilled four first-quarter 3-pointers and six in the first half.
East answered with back-to-back 3s by Ramon Harrington and Nickelson, and then closed the half on a 6-0 run to trail by only three at the break, 37-34.
“I thought our man-to-man defense was as good as it has been all year,” East head coach Steve McGraw said. “We didn’t play well the first four or five minutes of the game, partly my fault for being in the wrong defense again. I have a habit of doing that this year. I’ll take the blame for that.”
After trading blows to open the third quarter, a Jovahn Holmes 3-pointer gave East its first lead since the 4:39 mark of the first, and a pair of free throws by Nickelson, who had a game-high 30 points, put the Trojans ahead for good, 47-45, with 4:56 left in the third.
“We were settling for a lot of 3-pointers in the first half, and coach told us to attack the rim more and that is what we did a lot more in the second half. That was a big difference for us,” Nickelson said.
East led by 11 with 2:35 left when the Lions (8-8) began nibbling away at the lead. A Trey Hutcheson conventional three-point play made it 67-66 with 51 seconds left, and then a pair of free throws by Hutcheson tied it at 68 with 22 seconds left.
Hutcheson finished with 29 points, including a 12 of 12 effort from the line.
After Hutcheson’s free throws, the Trojans milked the clock down to under five seconds when Nickelson drove the lane and was fouled on his way up with 2.2 seconds left. He nailed both free throws and a desperation heave at the buzzer by Linn-Mar was off the mark.
“We got a little rattled there in the last 2 1/2 minutes, but again, that is all new ... unchartered territory for these kids,” McGraw said. “You have to experience it, and after the other night ... in back-to-back games we are starting to feel like we belong.
“It is a good feeling for us as coaches and it is good feeling for the kids. We finally got a stable lineup. We have kids who understand what their roles are and not caring whether they are starting or coming off the bench, but they are contributing and that is what you want. I was really proud of them tonight.”
East returns to action Friday at home when it hosts Iowa City High.
East 70, Linn-Mar 68
LINN-MAR (8-8) — Trey Hutcheson 8-13 12-12 29, Jacob Robertson 3-10 0-0 9, Nolan Ruff 1-4 4-4 6, Cole Martin 0-3 0-2 0, Greg Hall 6-7 2-2 17, Jaren Nelson 1-4 0-0 3, Jack Gertsen 1-2 2-2 4, Nate Annis 0-2 0-0 0, Hayden Passmore 0-0 0-0 0. Totals 20-45 20-22 68.
WATERLOO EAST (8-8) — Jacee Clark 3-6 1-3 7, Tyrese Nickelson 10-19 8-9 30, Jovahn Holmes 2-2 1-2 7, Ramon Harrington 3-6 3-4 11, Daquavion Walker 0-0 0-0 0, Kendall Robinson 1-1 0-0 2, Tavious Jenkins 1-1 0-0 0 2, Larenz Plum 0-0 0-0 0. Totals 26-49 13-18 70.
Linn-Mar 20 17 10 21 — 68
Wat. East 16 18 20 16 — 70
3-point goals — Linn-Mar 8 (Hutcheson, Robertson 3, Hall 3, Nelson). East 5 (Nickelson 2, Holmes 2, Harrington). Total fouls — Linn-Mar 12, East 13. Fouled out — none.
LINN-MAR SOPHS 95, EAST SOPHS 50
LINN-MAR — Jaxon Shelby 6, Will Zahradnik 10, Trey Martin 9, Brady Klahn 5, Dylan Decklever 15, Fletcher Mindrup 2, Preston Thomas 2, Marcus Orr 8, Carter Schminke 2, Brandon Raus 6, Tyler Andrews 19, Daniel Ho 2, David Jennings 7.
EAST — Ronald Frazier 25, DJ Holmes 7, Dylan Reyes 2, Brian Keene 1, Nameer Johnson 4, Kyon Wilson 4, Dohntay Redmond 4, Develle Rambus 3.
CLARKSVILLE — Clarksville added an exclamation point to its outstanding girls’ basketball season Tuesday with a 39-36 Iowa Star victory over fourth-ranked Dunkerton.
The Indians (18-3, 9-3) trailed 13-7 after a first-half defensive standoff. Both offenses picked up the pace in the second half and Clarksville pulled ahead in the final minutes.
Emma Poppe and Kori Wedeking combined to make four free throws to give the Indians a 37-36 lead, then Janet Borchardt added an insurance layup in the closing seconds.
Kori Wedeking scored 13 points for Clarksville, while Kaitlynn Wilder had 12 for Dunkerton (14-5, 9-3).
OSAGE 78, ROCKFORD 20: Fifth-ranked Osage kept its record perfect at 19-0 overall and 15-0 in the Top of Iowa Conference with an easy win over Rockford.
The Green Devils jumped out to a 21-6 lead in the first quarter and cruised from there.
JANESVILLE 56, TRIPOLI 26: The 11th-ranked Janesville girls cruised to their 10th win in a row with an Iowa Star romp over Tripoli.
Tripoli (7-14, 4-8) led 7-6 after the opening quarter, but Janesville (18-1, 12-0) controlled the final three periods. Kennedy Meister and Kennedy Reiken each scored 14 points for Janesville while Briana Baker-Bruce chipped in 11 points.
SUMNER-FREDERICKSBURG 58, UNION 22: Sumner-Fredericksburg didn’t let Union crack double digits in any quarter as the Cougars improved to 16-2 overall and 12-1 in the North Iowa Cedar League.
Sumner-Fredericksburg raced out to a 35-8 halftime lead. Cassidy Pagel led the Cougars with 21 points and Krayton Allen added 16 points, six rebounds, four assists and four steals. Jenna Brandt had a team-high 10 rebounds.
Union slipped to 5-14 overall and 3-11 in the league.
DECORAH 56, PRAIRIE DU CHIEN 54: Decorah overcame a 10-point halftime deficit and edged Prairie du Chien in the final seconds in a non-conference game Tuesday.
Nick Bockman had a big game for the Vikings (7-10) with 27 points, including four 3-point baskets.
CLARKSVILLE 39, DUNKERTON 36
DUNKERTON (14-5, 9-3) — Ashlynn Shimp 2, Mady Howland 6, Carli Teisinger 4, Lily Fettkether 1, McKayla Boeschen 7, Hannah Jacobsen 4, Kaitlynn Wilder 12.
CLARKSVILLE (18-3, 9-3) — Emma Poppe 4, Kori Wedeking 13, Chloe Ross 9, Janet Borchardt 6, Mallory Hoodjer 7.
OSAGE 78, ROCKFORD 20
ROCKFORD (4-15, 4-11) — Amber Reams 2, Jamie Schuster 6, Morgan Thieman 10, Kyla Carroll 2.
OSAGE (19-0, 15-0) — Mia Knudsen 7, Rylie Olson 15, Brenna Jacobs 13, Melanie Bye 5, Dani Johnson 7, Ellie Babinet 2, Gabby Schwarting 19, Madi Johnson 10.
JANESVILLE 56, TRIPOLI 26
JANESVILLE (18-1, 12-0) — Grace Hovenga 3, Kennedy Meister 14, Lily Liekweg 3, Alisa Bengen 3, Bailey Hoff 8, Kennedy Reiken 14, Briana Baker-Bruce 11.
TRIPOLI (7-14, 4-8) — Katelynn Piehl 9, Taylor Flaig 5, Olivia Miller 2, Samara Harms 8, Zoe Semelroth 2.
DECORAH 56, PRAIRIE DU CHIEN 54
PRAIRIE DU CHIEN — Gavin Gillifger 21, Mason Kramer 9, Josh Dyer 2, Blake Bartels 6, Cory Cheek 9, Hunter Davis 7.
DECORAH (7-10) — Jonah Johnson 5, Austin Myli 4, Andrew Kephart 2, Nick Bockman 27, Tynan Nelson 4, Clay Johansen 3, Jerod Redenius 11.
Brase, a 2016 state qualifier, is entering wrestling’s postseason on a high note. The Nashua-Plainfield 145-pounder avenged a previous loss to Osage’s Spencer Mooberry with a 7-4 decision in the finals of Saturday’s Top of Iowa Conference tournament. The victory marked Brase’s third conference title. He owns a 140-50 career record with 96 wins by fall. “He’s been an inspiration for some of his younger teammates,” N-P coach Al Frost said. “He’s a leader on the team through his work ethic. He’s got a great sense of humor and likes joking around and having fun with the team.” Brase is also a first-team all-district football player. He plans to continue his education at Hawkeye Community College.
Competing on a team with plenty of star power, Barney has been a valuable addition to the starting lineup for Class 5A’s No. 2-ranked Cedar Falls. The freshman guard led the Tigers with 17 points and four blocked shots, while also recording two steals Friday during a crucial 62-58 win over No. 9 Iowa City West. Barney averages 10 points a game and is tied for the team lead in 3-pointers at a 41.5 percent success rate. “She definitely plays much beyond her years,” Cedar Falls coach Gregg Groen said, addressing his freshman’s composure. “Anaya brings a lot of energy and excitement, and everybody seems to feed off that. She’s played a huge part in the success of the team this year.”
Draeger is coming off a standout week for West’s bowling team. The Wahawks’ co-captain finished with a 533 two-game series during a win over rival Waterloo East before helping lead West past Linn-Mar. Against the Lions, Drager’s first 14 shots as an anchor during the baker round were strikes. He tallied strikes on 16 of 20 attempts. Draeger has improved from a slow start to rank among the state leaders with a 219.3 single-game average. “He provides great leadership to his team and is always there encouraging his teammates and willing to help them make adjustments,” West coach Todd Bracken noted. “He works hard at improving his game.”
Wallis’ defensive instincts and ability to run offense with a strong assist-to-turnover ratio has been part of the successful formula for Class 2A’s No. 8 Grundy Center. Last week, Wallis tallied 19 points, six rebounds, two steals and a blocked shot as Grundy Center avenged its lone loss of the season with a 57-53 win over Class 1A’s No. 7 AGWSR. Wallis leads her team in scoring, 3-point shooting and steals. “She is the total package with what she is able to provide offensively,” Grundy Center coach Matt Lindeman said. “She’s quick, athletic, able to get to the basket and she can shoot it from the outside at any time. Put that together with what she’s able to bring defensively in our press, it makes her a very dynamic player.” Wallis also excels in volleyball and track and is active in chorus, musicals and student senate.
Riordan filled the stat sheet as she put together a big weekend, guiding Wapsie Valley to a pair of victories. The junior finished with 24 points, 10 rebounds, five steals and three assists Friday against Union. On Saturday against Clayton Ridge, she recorded 31 points, 10 rebounds, five steals, two blocks and one assist. “She has put in a great deal of time in the offseason and has been out for cross country to stay in shape,” Wapsie Valley coach Justin Davie noted. “She has started since her freshman year — very coachable, plays extremely hard and has become a team leader.”
Cook was on target last week, shooting 5-for-5 from the field and 2-for-2 from the free throw line while scoring a season-high 12 points during Friday’s 63-41 win over Waterloo East. The senior fourth-year varsity contributor has been a valuable defender with 32 steals this season. “She’s a real hard worker who continues to improve and played one of the best games of her career last Friday night,” West coach Tony Pappas said. “She’s one of our best defenders, also, and she plays a key spot in our zone defense that kind of makes us go. She always hustles and plays really hard.”