116 3rd St SE
Cedar Rapids, Iowa 52401
MAQUOKETA — He only played at the very end of the first, second and third quarters. Only in offensive situations, and only for about a total of 40 to 50 seconds tops.
Mason White didn't make a tangible difference in Dyersville Beckman's Class 2A substate final game Saturday night against ninth-ranked West Branch. But if you talk to his coach and his teammates, maybe, just maybe, him being on the court at all, even in a very limited way, played a factor in a 56-52 overtime victory.
'For us, there was no way we were going to lose with him there,' said Beckman's Padraig Gallagher.
Sophomore guard Gallagher was so big in this thriller, scoring 20 points, all in the second half and overtime. He made 11 of 12 free throws, including eight straight in overtime, as Beckman (16-7) built a two-score lead in this back-and-forth affair.
His role on this team increased exponentially after White, Beckman's best player, tore his ACL in a game against Solon in early January. White was determined to get back and help any way he could, rehabbed his knee, began practicing a couple of weeks ago and played Saturday in a very balky looking brace for the first time since his injury.
'He is risking himself, his knee,' Beckman Coach Michael Molony said. 'For us to battle through him going down, him coming back right before we played Jesup (in the first postseason) game and him starting to practice ... You saw the energy from the whole crowd when he came in. He's limited, obviously, he's playing on a torn ACL. But I've got to give him a ton of credit. Our senior leader, our captain, willing to risk his knee for this moment right here. I'm so happy for him.'
Virtually nothing separated these teams the entire night. Beckman led by a point after the first quarter and halftime, while West Branch (19-3) led by three, 33-30, going to the fourth.
University of Iowa football recruit Jeff Bowie was an unstoppable physical force inside for the Bears, finishing with 22 points, many of those coming on high-low lob passes.
'A lot of good post feeds inside, and I was able to make it pay off inside,' Bowie said.
Gavin Hierseman's spinning shot with 45 seconds left in regulation tied things at 44. Beckman committed a turnover with 4.5 seconds left, with a corner 3-point attempt behind the basket by West Branch's Peyton Miller missing, sending the game to OT.
Four Gallagher free throws gave Beckman a two-point lead, with Bowie hitting one of two at the stripe with 1:20 left for a 48-47 game. An inside bucket by Jake Hermsen put the Blazers up three, they got a stop on defense and two more Gallagher free throws for a 52-47 lead.
Beckman went 20 of 23 from the free-throw line in the game.
'Trust in myself,' said Gallagher, who sat out most of the first half with foul trouble. 'When I'm out of the game, trust in my teammates to keep us in the game. Just trust in God. We've been in this situation so much: close games, overtime. To us, it's second nature. It's easy for us. We've probably had the most close games in the state right now.'
Beckman has had 13 games decided by six points or less, and it has won its three postseason games by four, six and four. It is the school's first trip to the state tournament since 2007.
It was a bitter ending for West Branch, which battled through a 20-day gap between games in January because of a COVID-19 outbreak. The Bears were denied their first state basketball tournament appearance.
'I'm so proud of these guys,' said West Branch Coach Jason Kern. 'I'm happy to be their coach. Unfortunately time ran out on the scoreboard, and we didn't have enough points. But I still don't think we're losers tonight. These kids are winners in every aspect of life. This senior class was unbelievable. The most unselfish group I've ever coached. They play for one another. It just sucks the season is over.'
WEST BRANCH (52): Thomas Gould 1-3 0-0 2, Simon Palmer 6-9 2-2 16, Jeff Bowie 8-12 6-9 22, Gavin Hierseman 1-3 0-0 2, Holden Arnaman 2-4 0-0 6, Peyton Miller 2-5 0-0 4, Brady Knoop 0-1 0-0 0. Totals 20-40 8-11 52.
DYERSVILLE BECKMAN (56): Jack Gehling 4-6 3-4 12, Jake Hermsen 3-7 4-4 10, Padraig Gallagher 4-10 11-12 20, Logan Burchard 2-3 0-0 6, Logan Goedken 3-9 2-3 8, Cayden Gassman 0-0 0-0 0, Ryan Burchard 0-0 0-0 0, Mason White 0-0 0-0 0. Totals 16-35 20-23 56.
Halftime — Beckman 22, West Branch 21. End of Regulation — 44-44. 3-point goals — West Branch 4-10 (Palmer 2-2, Hierseman 0-1, Arnaman 2-4, Miller 0-2, Knoop 0-1), Beckman 4-13 (Gehling 1-1, Hermsen 0-1, Gallagher 1-3, L. Burchad 2-3, Goedken 0-5). Rebounds — West Branch 17 (Palmer 6), Beckman 21 (Gehling, Hermsen 6). Total fouls — West Branch 20, Beckman 15. Fouled out — Gould, Hierseman. Turnovers — West Branch 16, Beckman 13.
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