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#TeamJenk: Dyersville Beckman beats MFL MarMac in Class 2A district semifinals

Blazers continue quest for a basketball championship to honor their stricken baseball coach

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CASCADE — He wants to be there for the first practice of the baseball season. That would mean everything to him.

Everything to everyone.

“I know he’s itching to get back in that dugout with us,” Dyersville Beckman’s Sam Stelken said Thursday night, after his team’s 62-41 win over MFL MarMac in a Class 2A boys’ basketball semifinal. “That’s his main goal right now.”

Beckman’s players wear warmup shirts with #TeamJenk on the back. It’s in honor of longtime Blazers baseball coach Tom Jenk Jr., who was diagnosed after Christmas with a brain tumor.

Doctors were only able to remove part of it, and he’s in a care facility. A recent bout of pneumonia had him in a Dubuque hospital for awhile.

“We’ve been playing for him ever since we found out about it,” said Beckman’s Mitch Gehling. “It has motivated us to play better.”

“It’s been very emotional,” said Stelken, one of four basketball starters who also play baseball. “Everyone in town knows Jenk. Everyone, they want to play for him. We’ve dedicated our season to him. We go out here and play for him ... We don’t want to lose. We want to win that last game of the season.”

The seventh-ranked Blazers (17-5) moved a step closer to that goal by overcoming a slow start and eventually pulling away. MFL MarMac (17-6) scored the first six points of the game, but Beckman finally founds it sea legs (or gym legs) and played better and better as the game wore on.

A pronounced height advantage was significant. Six-foot-six center Gehling had a monster game of 15 points and 18 rebounds, complemented by Stelken’s 14 and 10.

He’s a 6-4 forward. Guard Riley LeGrand (a mere 6-3) had four 3-pointers and 19 points.

“We got a number two seed, and I thought maybe a three might have been better because we could have played on Monday night and could have gotten those jitters out, been able to play at home,” said Beckman Coach Jim Squires. “I thought it took us a little while to get going. Once we got going, we played a little better offensively. But I thought the biggest key was our defense. We really locked down and played very well on defense.”

Beckman didn’t give much of anything to outstanding MFL guard Tristen Kautman, at least until the outcome had pretty much been decided. Kautman finished with a game-high 20 points, the majority of those late.

Beckman also had a pronounced 14-rebound edge.

“I think coming over here, everyone was a little nervous,” Gehling said. “Once we got into the rhythm of the game, it started getting easier. We started getting out on the break, playing good defense, hitting open shots.”

Beckman’s opponent in Tuesday night’s district final at Manchester is rival Cascade. The eighth-ranked Cougars overcame a halftime deficit to beat Monticello, 57-46, in Thursday’s nightcap.

A 3-pointer of about 30 feet at the buzzer from Kyle Sperfslage put Monticello (11-12) up at the break, 22-19. Another Sperfslage trey, from closer range, gave the Panthers a six-point edge.

But Cascade (20-2) went on a 16-2 run that gave it a 35-27 lead after three quarters. Monticello never got closer than four the rest of the way.

Guard Brock Simon went 5-of-6 from distance and scored a game-high 18 points for Cascade. Jacob Manternach led Monti with 15, with Andy Tjaden coming off the bench for 14 points and 10 rebounds.

Beckman beat Cascade in late January, 54-45, at Dyersville.

AT CASCADE

MFL MARMAC (41): Bryar Ruff 0-5 0-0 0. Cade Kuenster 4-8 0-0 8, Tristen Kautman 7-15 6-8 20, Ty Hefner 2-11 0-1 4, Mason Hertrampf 4-13 0-0 9, Levi Ferguson 0-0 0-0 0, J.P. Murphy 0-0 0-0 0, Peyton Meisner 0-0 0-0 0, Blake Brainard 0-0 0-0 0, Carl Davis 0-1 0-0 0. Totals 17-53 6-9 41.

DYERSVILLE BECKMAN (62): Riley LeGrand 7-17 1-2 19, Jackson Bennett 3-11 2-2 9, Sam Stelken 7-12 0-0 14, Mitch Gehling 6-15 3-3 15, Brady Arens 2-3 0-1 4, Connor McDermott 0-0 0-0 0, Scott Olberding 0-0 1-2 1, Conner Krantz 0-0 0-0 0, John Gulick 0-0 0-0 0, Austin Hermsen 0-0 0-0 0. Totals 25-58 7-10 62.

Halftime — Beckman 25, MFL/Mar-Mac 16. 3-point goals — MFL/Mar-Mac 1-12 (Ruff 0-2, Kautman 0-2, Hefner 0-3, Hertrampf 1-5), Beckman 5-17 (LeGrand 4-10, Bennett 1-6, Gehling 0-1). Rebounds — MFL/Mar-Mac 29 (Ruff, Kuenster 6), Beckman 43 (Gehling 18). Total fouls — MFL/Mar-Mac 13, Beckman 10. Fouled out — None. Turnovers — MFL/Mar-Mac 8, Beckman 8.

***

AT CASCADE

MONTICELLO (46): Kyle Sperfslage 3-9 0-0 9, Alex Nealson 1-6 0-0 2, Joshua White 1-4 0-0 3, Jacob Manternach 5-15 2-2 15, Avery Martensen 0-1 0-0 0, Taylor Manternach 1-2 0-0 3, Andy Tjaden 6-7 2-2 14, Alex Kremer 0-1 0-0 0, Jordan Breashears 0-0 0-0 0, Connor Franzenburg 0-0 0-0 0. Totals 17-45 4-4 46.

CASCADE (57): Haris Hoffman 3-12 2-2 9, Gannon O’Brien 3-10 8-8 15, John Supple 3-7 2-4 8, Brock Simon 6-11 1-2 18, Dilan Simon 2-4 0-1 5, Derek Koppes 0-1 0-0 0, Bryce Simon 1-1 0-0 2. Totals 18-46 13-17 57.

Halftime — Monticello 22, Cascade 19. 3-point goals — Monticello 8-23 (Sperfslage 3-8, Nealson 0-1, White 1-3, J. Manternach 3-8, Martensen 0-1, T. Manternach 1-1, Kremer 0-1), Cascade 8-22 (Hoffman 1-5, O’Brien 1-6, Supple 0-2, Bro. Simon 5-6, D. Simon 1-2, Koppes 0-1). Rebounds — Monticello 32 (Tjaden 10), Cascade 26 (O’Brien 6). Total fouls — Monticello 17, Cascade 8. Fouled out — Tjaden. Turnovers — Monticello 13, Cascade 2.

l Comments: (319) 398-8259; jeff.johnson@thegazette.com

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