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DES MOINES — A dozen things could have and should have happened in the final seconds.

In the end, only one mattered — a right-handed swat by Tanner Lohaus that he thought might not matter at all.

But it did. Lohaus’ tip-in just before the fourth-quarter horn blared gave Iowa City West a 61-59 victory over Cedar Falls in a thrilling Class 4A state basketball tournament semifinal at Wells Fargo Arena.

Thus, the Trojans (21-4) advanced to the Saturday night title game against West Des Moines Valley, which beat Pleasant Valley on a last-second shot. Cedar Falls (20-5) moved to a consolation matchup with the Spartans.

That date seemed a long way down the road Friday night. Tiger head coach Ryan Schultz took a look at what did happen, and how his team came so close to reaching the boys’ final for the first time in school history.

“It’s very, very hard to handle right now,” said Schultz. “Obviously, when you get beat like that at the buzzer like that, we have a lot of disappointed guys in the lockerroom. As the same time, as we talked, we proved to ourselves and a lot of people that we belonged here. I’m very, very proud of our effort.

“All year, we have not quit and I never saw any quit in our eyes today.”

A lot of things could have happened. Quitting did not. The Tigers, trailing by as many as 12 points in the fourth quarter, roared back behind A.J. Green and Taylen Alexander. Green scored 14 of his game-high 24 points in the period. Alexander had five of his 11.

Finally, Green hit a driving layup with nine seconds remaining in regulation time to tie the game at 59.

Then a lot of things happened. A lot.

Tra’Von Fagan drew a foul call trying to double-team Connor McCaffery in the corner.

McCaffery, with four seconds to go, missed the front end of the one-and-one.

One tick later, Devontae Lane stole a pass intended for Green. He shot from the left corner and missed.

On the other side of the rim, Lohaus crashed the boards. While fading backward, the younger brother of Northern Iowa’s Wyatt Lohaus slapped at the basketball.

It caught part of the rim, bounced up, and then plunged into the net just after time expired.

The shot counted. Ballgame. A lot of things could have happened. Lohaus did the only thing he had time to try, and it worked.

“The guy who was guarding me was under the hoop instead of boxing me out,” said Lohaus, who will join his older brother at UNI next year. “I just figured that time was about close to running out. So I just tried to tip it up and see if I could get it in there.”

Lohaus added, “I didn’t even think I would get it off in time, but I figured — a 0.5 percent chance it would go in. I might as well give it a shot.”

After that, Lohaus joined his teammates in a wild on-court celebration. The Tigers departed, crestfallen.

“It hurts a lot,” said Alexander. “It’s just knowing that these seniors, all the work we’ve put in through the summer and this season to get to this point and then to lose — it’s kind of heartbreaking right now.”

As Schultz suggested, Cedar Falls had to survive plenty of misfortune just to get the game into the final five seconds.

Fagan, a key part of the Tiger quarterfinal victory over Council Bluffs Abraham Lincoln, picked up two fouls in the opening four minutes of action and sat out the rest of the first half. He came back and played a total of 19 minutes, scoring six points.

Meanwhile, Cedar Falls fell into a 15-4 hole, battled back within four by halftime, dropped back again by double digits in the third period and once more in the fourth.

So Schultz mixed up his pressure defense and essentially let the Tigers “just play” offensively at the end.

“Obviously, A.J. made some things happen, we hit some big shots down the stretch and it’s really the guys right here ... They just started to make some plays.”

Green, the sophomore guard, cashed in a four-point play at one stage when he was fouled shooting a 3. His entire fourth-quarter total came after the midway mark.

“I just knew I had to try and get my team back in it and try to get some momentum going in our favor,” he said.

He did that. That happened.

But so did a right-handed swat by Tanner Lohaus.

“I would give our guys a lot of credit for perseverance,” said Trojan coach Steve Bergman.

I.C. West 61, Cedar Falls 59

I.C. West Mn FG-A FT-A Rb As PF TP

Parks 29 6-9 5-6 4 3 2 17

Henderson 25 2-5 0-0 1 4 4 6

Lane 31 6-12 1-3 3 3 1 13

Lohaus 25 4-7 0-0 6 4 1 8

C.McCaffery 30 5-8 2-3 2 3 0 14

P.McCaffery 9 0-0 0-0 1 0 0 0

Majors 3 1-1 2-2 0 0 0 4

Barnes 8 0-1 0-0 1 1 2 0

Team 1

Totals 160 24-43 10-14 19 18 10 61

C. Falls Mn FG-A FT-A Rb As PF TP

Fagan 19 2-5 2-2 5 0 3 6

Green 32 8-12 3-3 0 2 0 24

LaBeaux 28 6-11 0-0 8 0 0 12

Alexander 28 4-9 0-0 5 2 3 6

Harrington 4 0-0 0-0 0 1 0 0

Gerdes 10 0-1 0-0 0 0 2 0

Leisinger 7 0-0 0-0 1 0 0 0

Bower 3 0-0 0-0 0 0 0 0

Team 1

Totals 160 23-42 5-5 22 7 12 59

Iowa City West 18 10 15 18 — 61

Cedar Falls 10 14 19 25 — 59

3-point goals—ICW 3-8 (Henderson 1-3, Lane 0-1, C. McCaffery 2-4), CF 8-13 (Fagan 0-1, Green 5-8, Alexander 3-4). Blocks—ICW 2 (Lohaus and Lane 1), CF 0. Steals—ICW 6 (Lane 3), Cedar Falls 8 (LaBeaux and Alexander 2).

Officials—Burkle, Gatto, Kain.

W.D.M. VALLEY 50, PLEASANT VALLEY 48

WEST DES MOINES VALLEY (22-3) — Economos 1-2 0-0 2, Scott 4-18 8-11 17, Marble 5-11 3-6 16, Long 3-5 0-0 6, Curry 2-2 3-3 7, Hinkle 0-0 0-0 0, Crowley 1-3 0-0 2. Totals 16-41 14-20 50.

PLEASANT VALLEY (23-2) — Kitzmann 0-0 0-0 0, Dayman 1-4 3-6 5, Carius 8-14 11-13 34, Czamecki 1-3 0-0 2, Milam 2-8 1-1 5, Montgomery 1-2 0-0 2, Fields 0-0 0-0 0. Totals 13-31 15-20 48.

Halftime—Valley 14, Pleasant Valley 11. 3-point goals—Valley 4-13 (Scott 1-5, Marble 3-7, Long 0-1), Pleasant Valley 7-9 (Carius 7-9). Rebounds—Valley 23 (Long 8), Pleasant Valley 27 (Milam 8). Assists—Valley 6 (Marble 2, Long 2), Pleasant Valley 11 (Czemecki 6). Turnovers—Valley 6 (Curry 2), Pleasant Valley 14 (Fields 4). Steals—Valley 8 (Economos 3), Pleasant Valley 1 (Carius 1). Blocks—Valley 4 (Marble 2), Pleasant Valley 1 (Carius 1). Total fouls—Valley 19, Pleasant Valley 14. Fouled out—Curry.

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Sports reporter for The Courier

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