DES MOINES — It was like a streak right out of the blue. Columbia blue, to be exact.
Those are Dubuque Senior’s school colors, and its streak here was Daquon Lewis.
The reserve guard intercepted a pass between the 3-point line and half court, dribbled ahead of the pack and laid home what turned out to be the winning points with 43 seconds left in Senior’s 39-36 win over Iowa City West in a Class 4A state tournament quarterfinal tug of war Wednesday afternoon at Wells Fargo Arena.
How underalded was this kid? He came in here averaging a mere 2.4 point.
But he can play defense, which was why he was in a game that West led with under a minute to go, 37-36.
“He’s our steal guy,” said Senior Coach Wendell Eimers. “The way we play defense, we don’t really try to get steals. But we had him out there and told him ‘Hey, you’ve got to pick one off.’ I knew when he got it, he’s so fast, he’s left-handed, I knew there was no way anyone was going to catch him. He just had to put it in. That was the play of the game.”
Two Patrick McCaffery free throws at the 2:29 mark put West (17-4) ahead. That was exactly the game status when Lewis came up huge, anticipating a cross-court pass from West’s Nicholas Pepin and stepping in front of it.
“It was like the best feeling of my life,” Lewis said. “I knew he was going to pass right there, so I used my speed and got the steal. I just took it fastbreak.”
Pepin missed an open 3-pointer on West’s trip back downcourt. After Cooper Medinger made two free throws for Senior with 20.6 seconds left, McCaffery and Pepin had attempts at 3s that wouldn’t go.
Pepin’s was open at the top of the arc. Story of the game for the Trojans, who scored 18 points in the first quarter and 18 the rest of the way.
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“It was one guy going one-on-one passing to another guy who was going one-on-one. That’s not us,” said West Coach Steve Bergman. “That’s what had me frustrating. Then we took some bad shots and we missed some easy shots by guys who have been making those shots. That’s how you lose.
“I thought we really, really in a lot of ways outplayed them. But we didn’t make any shots, and we took some bad shots.”
McCaffery was West’s only double-digit guy with 14. The senior forward, headed to Iowa, finished a great career as the school’s all-time leading scorer.
West shot only 36.8 percent to Senior’s 37.8. The Rams (17-3), who play Waukee in Thursday night’s 4A semifinals, had a decided time-of-possession advantage in the second half, not that it’s an actual statistic.
Eimers said he sensed his guys were tired, so he told them to work the basketball around to make sure they got a perfect shot. Northern Iowa forward signee Noah Carter was held in check by West, scoring just 12 points on 3-of-11 shooting.
Sophomore Marcus Morgan manned him up defensively and got good help by his interior teammates.
“They had a lot of the ball in the second half, so we never really got in a rhythm,” McCaffery said. “I don’t think either team got into a rhythm offensively. What, they had like 15 points and we had 13? Just kind of tough to get into a rhythm. Missed a couple of shots that we have made throughout the year. We got a lot of really good looks, I thought. They just didn’t fall. That just happens sometimes.”
This was the ninth consecutive state tournament appearance for West and the first time in that span it did not won its quarterfinal game.
“It’s a good streak. A lot of good players,” Bergman said. “Marcus Morgan’s brother (Jeremy) was on the team that started it. We stressed that all week. Get ready so we can play three games. We just didn’t finish the deal.”
AT WELLS FARGO ARENA
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DUBUQUE SENIOR (39): Landon Hermsen 2-7 0-0 4, Nick Timmerman 0-1 0-0 0, Noah Carter 3-11 6-7 12, Cooper Medinger 2-8 3-4 8, Sam Link 4-6 0-0 9, Dequon Lewis 3-3 0-0 6, Jim Bonifas 0-1 0-0 0. Totals 14-37 9-11 39.
IOWA CITY WEST (36): Marcus Morgan 2-5 1-1 5, Patrick McCaffery 5-11 2-2 14, Even Brauns 4-4 0-0 8, Brayden Adcock 1-4 0-0 2, Nicholas Pepin 2-11 0-0 5, Tate Crane 0-1 2-2 2, Joey Goodman 0-1 0-0 0, Jacob Klein 0-1 0-0 0. Totals 14-38 5-5 36.
Halftime — Senior 24, West 23. 3-point goals — Senior 2-11 (Medinger 1-4, Link 1-3, Hermsen 0-1, Carter 0-3), West 3-17 (Adcock 0-2, Pepin 1-7, Morgan 0-2, McCaffery 2-3, Klein 0-1, Crane 0-1, Goodman 0-1). Rebounds — Senior 29 (Carter 10), West 17 (McCaffery 8). Total fouls — Senior 12, West 12. Fouled out — None. Assists — Senior 3 (Medinger, Link, Timmerman 1), West 8 (Adcock 5). Turnovers — Senior 9, West 7.
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