CEDAR FALLS — When Cedar Falls’ Chase Courbat went down with an injury last week, there was concern for the 6-foot-9 center’s health, but little concern over who would step in and fill his shoes.
The Tigers’ depth has been an asset so far this season, and Joe Knutson and Carter Janssen filled in admirably Tuesday to help Cedar Falls to a 63-51 Mississippi Valley Conference victory over Iowa City Liberty.
“They (Liberty) are a very good team and not having that inside presence was a little concerning for us,” said Tigers head coach Ryan Schultz. “We have a lot of confidence in Joe and Carter, and we knew we would get good minutes from them. We just kept rotating to keep everyone fresh.
“We have a lot of new guys running around out there and they are getting quality minutes that we will need.” The Tigers did not let the Lightning (5-3) strike early as they built a 12-3 lead in the opening four minutes.
Liberty came back with a 7-0 run and with Cedar Falls needing a stop, Knutson powered his way inside and delivered a short jumper to give the home team a 14-9 edge.
From there, the Tigers never trailed as they kept their foot on the pedal.
“We knew we had to come out and keep the pressure on them because they rotate a lot of guys, to keep them fresh,” said senior guard Josh Ollendieck. “We do the same thing and so we have to make sure our shots count. Coach tells us if you see an open shot you have to take it. Tonight I got my first 3-pointer and I felt good about putting up the shots.”
Ollendieck nailed three of his four treys in the second quarter to help build a 32-18 lead at the break.
“We started to pull away and I was able to get a few more to drop,” added Ollendieck. “Things were going good, but then they made a run in the fourth and got it down to a six point game. That made everyone a little nervous.
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“Our depth came through and we were able to build it back up and hold them off. It always feels great when you can beat a very good team.”
Ollendieck recorded 19 points in the contest leading all scorers. Ben Sernett scored 13 points, and Landon Wolf chipped in 10.
“This team has a lot of depth and we are very excited about where we are at right now,” said Schultz. “We still have quite a bit to work on, but we are getting there. This team has a big upside.”
Cedar Falls 63, I.C. Liberty 51
IOWA CITY LIBERTY (5-3) — Ira Hazeltine 2 0-0 6, Sam Funke 0 2-2 2, Kelby Telander 3 0-2 6, Ethan O’Donnell 0 1-2 1, Andre Brandon 5 5-9 15, Basil Aldoss 2 1-2 5, Ben Houselog 5 1-1 13, Cody Schroeder 0 0-0 0, Colin Shults 0 0-0 0, Savion Taylor 1 0-0 3, Gregory Mitchell 0 0-0 0. Totals 18 10-18 51.
CEDAR FALLS (7-1) — Josh Ollendieck 6 3-5 19, Trey Campbell 0 5-10 5, Landon Wolf 3 2-2 10, Jaxson Heth 1 2-2 4, Carter Janssen 1 0-0 2, Ben Sernett 5 0-1 13, Joe Knutson 2 0-0 4, Cael Loecher 3 0-0 6. Totals 21 12-20 63.
I.C. Liberty 11 7 12 21 — 51
Cedar Falls 14 18 13 18 — 63
3-point goals — Liberty 5 (Hazeltine 2, Houselog 2, Taylor), Cedar Falls 9 (Ollendieck 4, Wolf 2, Sernett 3). Total fouls — Liberty 17, Cedar Falls 18. Fouled out — none.
Photos: West-Cedar Falls boys' basketball