Prep Basketball

Short-handed Iowa City West boys' basketball outlasts No. 2 Dubuque Hempstead

Ben Vander Leest makes two free throws with 3.7 seconds left to lift No. 8 Trojans

Iowa City West Trojans
Iowa City West Trojans

IOWA CITY — Without its two best defenders, Iowa City West showed it was still strong enough.

“I was happy tonight, those guys stepped up,” West Coach Steve Bergman said after the Class 4A eighth-ranked Trojans overcame a 12-point deficit and handed No. 2 Dubuque Hempstead its first loss this season, 54-53, in a Mississippi Valley Conference boys’ basketball game Tuesday night at West High School. “We played solid defense. We took care of it a little bit. We had fun.”

Hempstead (7-1, 4-1 MVC) sprinted to a 20-8 lead in the first quarter behind 11 quick points from junior Michael Duax, who led the MVC and was fourth in all of 4A with 22.6 points per game entering the contest.

West cut its deficit to three points at halftime with an 8-0 burst.

“First quarter, we were really throwing the ball away, had a lot of turnovers,” West junior Ben Vander Leest said. “We really just dialed that in, especially in the second half, to eventually claw our way back into the lead.”

Tuesday night was the second start for Vander Leest in place of junior Marcus Morgan, who is second on the Trojans with 11.8 points per game and is not expected back for 2-3 weeks. Freshman Christian Barnes started his first varsity game in place of Nick Pepin, who is expected back sooner.

“We have three returning guys who played a lot of minutes last year and two of them aren’t playing,” Bergman said. “It doesn’t help the cause.”

West (6-1, 2-1) claimed its first lead with 5:04 to go with a 3-point basket from sophomore Andrew Tauchen. Over the final five minutes, there was one tie and six lead changes. With West trailing, 53-52, Vander Leest drove along the baseline and was fouled with 3.7 seconds left.

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In a scenario he has likely played out in his driveway thousands of times, Vander Leest converted both free throws and gave West the win.

“I have done it a few times back in my youth days,” said Vander Leest, who finished with 14 points.

Even Brauns led the Trojans with 17 points, while Duax nearly reached his average with 20.

Boys’ basketball

AT IOWA CITY WEST

Class 4A No. 8 Iowa City West 54, No. 2 Dubuque Hempstead 53

DUBUQUE HEMPSTEAD (53): Elijah Herrion 0 0-0 0, Cameron Davis 1 0-0 2, Kellen Strohmeyer 1 1-2 3, Michael Duax 9 1-2 20, Jack Sabers 2 5-6 9, Matthew Sanders 1 0-0 2, Jamari Smith 5 0-0 12, Nick Kaesbauer 2 0-0 5, Totals 21 7-10 53.

IOWA CITY WEST (54): Christian Barnes 1 0-0 2, Charlie Moreland 0 0-0 0, Tate Crane 2 2-2 6, Joe Goodman 1 2-2 5, Mikey Brown 0 0-0 0, Ben Vander Leest 5 2-2 14, Andrew Tauchen 2 2-2 8, Even Brauns 8 1-3 17, Totals 19 9-11

Dubuque Hempstead 20 9 11 13—53

Iowa City West 13 12 12 17—54

Three-point goals — Dubuque Hempstead 4 (Smith 2, Duax 1, Kaesbauer 1); Iowa City West 5 (Tauchen 2, Vander Leest 2, Goodman 1). Rebounds — Dubuque Hempstead 13 (Duax 6); Iowa City West 14 (Brauns 6). Total fouls — Dubuque Hempstead 14, Iowa City West 11. Fouled out — None.

Comments: douglas.miles@thegazette.com

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