MANCHESTER — In this day and age, they’re kind of a basketball relic. Albeit a golden one.
The way these Cascade Cougars play the game isn’t like it’s the NBA or major college.
They’re not going to spread the floor and let someone go one on everyone else. They’re not going to run up and down the court or camp at the 3-point line.
These guys make cuts, they screen for each other, make the extra pass or two or three, all take about the same amount of shots per game. It is true team basketball, and it’s winning basketball.
“It’s fine this way,” said Cascade’s Brock Simon, after his second-ranked team beat Dyersville Beckman, 53-41, Saturday night in a Class 2A substate final. “Because a lot of things we work on gives us an advantage in a game. Teams could be more athletic than us, but if we just play more fundamental and the right way, it’s going to help us get a win.”
And win and win and win. This is the fifth year in a row Cascade has advanced to the state tournament.
The Cougars won’t find out their seed or draw in what will be a very strong 2A field until Monday, when all of the substate finals have been completed. They are 23-1, that lone loss coming in the regular-season finale to Northeast.
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“I’d have rather won that game, don’t get me wrong,” said Coach Jacob Brindle. “But win or lose, we had things to get better at, and we understood that.”
These teams played a triple-overtime classic in this game last year, and for most of the way here, it appeared we were headed for extra minutes again. A 3-pointer at the buzzer from Conner Krantz gave Beckman (14-9) a 25-24 halftime lead, and it was a 35-33 Cascade lead after three quarters.
But Johnny Supple began the fourth for Cascade with a putback and inside hoop to put his club on top by six, a huge margin in this tight game. Eventually, Haris Hoffman made a shot in the paint to put the Cougars up by double digits, 43-33, and that was all she wrote.
“I think we were losing opportunities to score the first three quarters,” said Cascade’s Gannon O’Brien. “We were turning the ball over. But in the fourth quarter, we took care of the ball, got some layups, some really good looks.”
“We picked up our intensity on defense and started running,” said Simon. “Once we started running, they struggled to get back, and it was our game from there.”
Simon led Cascade with 19 points, while O’Brien added 11. The five starters on this team average between eight and 12 points per game.
Back to that team basketball thing. Variations of an historically strong 2-3 zone defense kept Beckman’s 6-foot-6 center Mitch Gehling and forward Jackson Bennett to just a combined 15 points.
They came in averaging 30 points between them.
“Once we got the lead from four to six, that was key,” Brindle said. “That kind of forced them to take some shots they didn’t want to take.”
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CASCADE (53): Gannon O’Brien 4-7 2-2 11, Johnny Supple 4-7 1-1 9, Haris Hoffman 2-6 0-0 4, Derek Koppes 2-5 2-3 6, Brock Simon 6-9 6-6 19, Reid Rausch 1-1 2-2 4, Logan Otting 0-0 0-0 0, Wil Roling 0-0 0-2 0, Tommy Knepper 0-0 0-0 0, Luke Bertling 0-0 0-0 0. Totals 19-35 13-16 53.
DYERSVILLE BECKMAN (41): Scott Olberding 2-3 0-0 5, Jackson Bennett 3-11 0-0 7, Mitch Gehling 2-8 4-8 8, Michael Keegan 4-8 2-4 11, Conner Krantz 2-8 2-2 8, Connor McDermott 0-1 0-0 0, Luke Goedken 1-4 0-0 2, Austin Hermsen 0-0 0-0 0, Eric Recker 0-1 0-0 0, John Gulick 0-0 0-09 0, Seamus O’Connor 0-0 0-0 0. Totals 14-44 8-14 41.
Halftime — Beckman 25, Cascade 24. 3-point goals — Cascade 2-7 (O’Brien 1-2, Supple 0-1, Koppes 0-1, Simon 1-3), Beckman 5-23 (Olberding 1-2, Bennett 1-6, Keegan 1-2, Krantz 2-9, McDermott 0-1, Goedken 0-3, Recker 0-1). Rebounds — Cascade 22 (O’Brien, Simon 5), Beckman 25 (Gehling 9). Total fouls — Cascade 12, Beckman 17. Fouled out — Olberding. Turnovers — Cascade 13, Beckman 13.
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