INDEPENDENCE — Tired? You don’t get tired when you’re playing for your school’s first trip to the boys’ basketball tournament.
“These guys just play,” Coach Justin Olind told the Waterloo Courier, after his Ed-Co Vikings beat eighth-ranked Dunkerton, 59-57, Saturday night in a Class 1A substate final. “We always play hard, finish strong. That’s kind of our thing. My 5-year-old son told me today, he goes, ‘Dad, being tired is for losers.’ I go, ‘That’s good, because we’re winners, bud.’ That’s what I told these guys, and it came true.”
What a whirlwind 24 hours for Ed-Co (21-4), which beat Wapsie Valley in overtime Friday night in a district final. That thriller was postponed a day because of weather.
Dunkerton (22-3) played its district final Thursday, so had a day’s rest. It didn’t matter, because, as Olind said, his guys are winners.
Ed-Co won’t know its seed or state tournament quarterfinal opponent until all of the substate finals are completed Monday night. Not that it matters.
The Vikings know they’ll be in Des Moines in a little over a week.
“We just have so much trust in each other, and we just played as hard as we could,” Ed-Co’s Parker Rochford told the Waterloo Courier. “We just don’t stop.”
A precocious freshman guard, Rochford provided the biggest shot of this game by splashing a 3-pointer with his team ahead by two points and under a minute to go. Three of Rochford’s four treys came in the second half.
ARTICLE CONTINUES BELOW ADVERTISEMENT
“We needed a big shot,” he said. “My brother (Preston) trusted me and passed it to me, and I just shot it.”
“He just doesn’t know any better,” Olind said. “Great player. He knows the situation, knows what we need. I don’t coach freshmen, sophomores, juniors and seniors. I coach basketball players, and he did a phenomenal job tonight, as did all the guys. It’s a lot of fun to coach this group of young men.”
Dunkerton led by seven points in the first quarter, though Ed-Co surged ahead by that many in the second, before the Raiders moved back up at halftime, 29-24. A 12-4 third-quarter run put Ed-Co on top again, and it was a 41-37 Vikings lead headed to the fourth.