116 3rd St SE
Cedar Rapids, Iowa 52401
DES MOINES — Don't fear the reaper, don't fear the 7-footer.
Montezuma sure didn't do that last thing Wednesday night in the Class 1A state basketball tournament semifinals.
A team with a lineup of four guys 6-foot or shorter decided to heck with it. Let's just take it to Grand View Christian behemoth Daniel Tobiloba and see what happens.
Man, did that strategy work.
'We saw a lot of teams kind of shy away from him at the rim during the season,' said Montezuma's Trey Shearer, after the Braves' 49-35 win. 'We wanted to take it right at him. I don't think he'd seen that much this season, I don't think it was something he expected out of us. (Teammate) Cole (Watts) and I have seen kids at the AAU level just as big as him, just as lengthy and athletic as him. We were not scared of him, we wanted to take it right at him.'
And right to the championship.
Montezuma (24-2) plays North Linn (27-0) in Friday's finals, the seventh seed against the top seed. This is the third straight year the Braves have qualified for state.
They finished fourth two years ago and third last year.
'The first word that probably pops to mind is excited. Then shocked, stunned,' Watts said. 'This is something we have always dreamed about, something we've always talked about. Just having this group from being really young and just being able to get to this moment, with the odds against us, I'd say, it's an amazing moment. Just because we believed in ourselves, and we perservered.'
Montezuma completely took this game over in the second half, scoring 10 straight points in the third quarter en route to building a 36-26 lead. Watts took it to the hole a couple of times in the quarter and scored over (or around) Tobiloba, a sophomore human fly swatter.
Eddie Burgess, who's 6-4, battled the big man inside and somehow outrebounded him, 15-14. Montezuma's defense created turnovers, points off of them and held GVC to 29-percent shooting.
The Thunder's leading scorer Manny Hammonds is normally a 20-point-a-night guy. He had six points here on 1-of-11 field-goal shooting.
Grand View's only loss coming in was to 4A Ottumwa. It finished the season 21-2.
'For the most part, I think our mentality was to keep trying to do what we do,' said Coach Derrick Dengler. 'Which is attacking the paint, having guys under control, guys spacing and shooting, guys willing to cut behind. Early on, it took us awhile to adjust to it. It definitely helped that Trey went right at him and got a couple of fouls on him. I think that made him a little more tentative, which was a huge key for us, obviously.
'Once we get the lead, with our ballhandlers ... we've got a lot of talent there.'
A superb guard headed to Division II Truman State, Shearer had a game-high 18 points. Watts added 13.
'Defense was huge for us,' Shearer said. 'Offensively, we took that momentum on defense and just ran with it. We got out in transition a little bit. That big kid started playing up a little bit, and Eddie was there for dump passes, and he finished.'
MONTEZUMA (49): Cam Johnson 1-1 1-2 4, Masin Shearer 3-6 1-3 7, Cole Watts 6-14 0-0 13, Trey Shearer 6-14 5-5 18, Eddie Burgess 3-7 1-4 7, Owen Cook 0-0 0-0 0, Jacob Ross 0-0 0-0 0, Gavin Strong 0-1 0-0 0, Joey Kercheval 0-0 0-0 0. Totals 19-43 8-14 49.
GRAND VIEW CHRISTIAN (35): Alandis Arrasmith 2-6 0-0 5, Josh Baucum 3-9 2-3 9, Manny Hammonds 1-11 4-6 6, Jonny Gatto 4-10 0-0 11, Daniel Tobiloba 1-3 0-0 2, Josh Sanderson 0-0 0-0 0, Logan Witzenburg 0-0 0-0 0, Evan Rogers 0-0 0-0 0, Derek Merrifield 0-0 0-0 0, Caleb Parlee 1-2 0-0 2, Eli Tarbell 0-0 0-0 0, Noah John 0-0 0-0 0. Totals 12-41 6-9 35.
Halftime — Montezuma 21, Grand View Christian 18. 3-point shooting — Montezuma 3-12 (Johnson 1-1, M. Shearer 0-2, Watts 1-3, T. Shearer 1-5, Strong 0-1), Grand View Christian 5-17 (Arrasmith 1-4, Baucum 1-6, Gatto 3-7). Rebounds — Montezuma 30 (Burgess 15), Grand View Christian 28 (Tobiloba 14). Total fouls — Montezuma 11, Grand View Christian 14. Fouled out — None. Assists — Montezuma 6 (T. Shearer 3), Grand View Christian 6 (Arrasmith 6). Turnovers — Montezuma 7, Grand View Christian 14.
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