CEDAR RAPIDS — Destiny, thy name is Mount Vernon.
You can’t bet against these clutch group of Mustangs after their last two basketball games. Keaton Kutcher’s 3-pointer with 3.6 seconds left moved No. 2 Mount Vernon to the Class 3A boys’ state tournament with a 52-50 win over DeWitt Central in a thrilling doubleheader nightcap at the U.S. Cellular Center.
Kutcher, the tremendous junior wing, brought the ball down the floor after Central’s Zach Hinkle put his team ahead with an inside hoop with 13 seconds to go. He pulled up on the right wing just inside the NBA 3-point line and swished the winning shot.
Kutcher finished with a game-high 24 points.
“That’s just a shot every kid who has a dream practices in their driveway,” he said. “I have practiced that shot so many times. I was just looking for an opportunity. I knew I had to shoot it when I got the ball. I was just looking for the best opportunity, I saw it and took full advantage.”
This was the second game in a row the second-ranked Mustangs (22-2) pulled out with buzzer-beating heroics. Cooper Bechtold’s putback lifted Mount Vernon past Dubuque Wahlert by a point in last week’s substate semifinals.
Bechtold was a deep reserve who hadn’t played in three weeks until Mount Vernon Coach Ed Timm tapped him to go in and use his size and offensive line skills from football to get a potential rebound. Back to that destiny thing.
“The two things similar about this is one of our core things is we don’t call timeout at the end,” said Timm, taking Mount Vernon to the state tourney for the first time since they won the 2A state title in 2012. “You noticed against Wahlert, we didn’t call timeout, we pushed it down the court with six seconds left, got a layup. Well, we got two free throws. got a great shot.
“This game it was the same thing. Twelve seconds left, we weren’t going to call the timeout. Just push it down the floor because that’s the best shot you’re going to get. Instead of calling timeout and setting up a play. It worked out.”
Mount Vernon led throughout, by as many as 12 points in the third quarter. DeWitt Central (18-6), which suffered half of its losses this season to MV, kept whittling away at its disadvantage and got a steal of an inbounds pass in the final 20 seconds, which led to Hinkle’s go-ahead basket.
Tucker Kinney had 23 points for Central, Hinkle 11. Noah Erickson had 14 points for MV.
Pairings for the 3A state tourney should be hashed out Thursday.
“This shows that from our best guy to our first guy, everybody works, everybody is on the same page,” said Kutcher. “It’s just a great group. We’ve really come together like that. Situations like these does bring our toughness, and it’s something we can really build upon going into The Well.”
“We’ve had lots of guys step up and do different things,” Timm said. “You don’t win the Wamac with as tough as it’s been this year, you don’t win what I think is the toughest (substate) without that. I told our kids they should be proud of that. I think we won the toughest 3A conference in the state, I think we won the toughest 3A (substate) in the state. We deserve to see what we can do next Tuesday.”
AT U.S. CELLULAR CENTER
DEWITT CENTRAL (50): Zach Hinkle 5-6 0-0 11, Tucker Kinney 9-17 2-3 23, Alex McAleer 5-13 0-2 10, Logan Paulsen 2-6 0-0 4, Henry Bloom 0-5 2-2 2, Kaiden Muhl 0-1 0-0 0, Ben Mason 0-1 0-0 0, John McCohony 0-0 0-0 0. Totals 21-49 4-8 50.
MOUNT VERON (52): Noah Erickson 6-13 2-3 14, Keaton Kutcher 7-14 8-11 24, Derek Jordan 3-7 0-1 6, Collin Swantz 1-2 0-0 2, Nolan Brand 1-5 2-2 4, Kaleb Brand 1-2 0-0 2, Jayden Meeker 0-2 0-0 0. Totals 19-45 12-17 52.
Halftime — Mount Vernon 28, DeWitt Central 18. 3-point goals — DeWitt Central 4-12 (Hinkle 1-1, Kinney 3-6, McAleer 0-3, Bloom 0-2), Mount Vernon 2-11 (Erickson 0-1, Kutcher 2-5, Swantz 0-1, N. Brand 0-1, K. Brand 0-1, Meeker 0-2). Rebounds — DeWitt Central 28 (Kinney 10), Mount Vernon 27 (Jordan 11). Total fouls — DeWitt Central 14, Mount Vernon 15. Fouled out — None. Turnovers — DeWitt Central 10, Mount Vernon 10.
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