Prep Basketball

No. 4 Monticello survives Northeast upset bid in 2A boys' basketball district semifinals

Panthers make big plays in final 20 seconds for 38-34 victory, play Cascade next

Monticello Panthers
Monticello Panthers

MONTICELLO — Survive and advance, baby. Survive and advance.

That’s what Monticello’s fourth-ranked boys’ basketball team was able to do Thursday night. The Panthers barely held off a gallant comeback attempt by Northeast, 38-34, in a Class 2A district semifinal, but they did hold it off.

It took a key blocked shot, a missed one-and-one by the opponent and a couple of made free throws in the final 15 seconds, but Monti moves on to play neighboring rival Cascade in a Tuesday night district final.

Cascade was uber impressive in a 50-26 swatting of Iowa City Regina in Thursday’s other semifinal here.

“Big win,” said Monticello’s Connor Lambert. “Good to get through it. On to the next one now.”

“Usually when we win, I walk into (the locker room), and they all kind of celebrate,” said Monticello Coach Tim Lambert, Connor’s uncle. “Tonight they were all looking down. I told them ‘I don’t know why you’re not celebrating, because more than half the teams are home right now.’”

Monticello (19-2) beat Northeast twice in the regular season and seemed in control here, up nine after three quarters. But Northeast (13-10) forced turnover after turnover in the fourth, and, all of a sudden, it was a 35-34 game with 1:28 left and the Rebels with the ball.

Monticello’s Justin Recker swatted away what seemed to be an open inside look by Northeast’s Dakota Stevenson with under 20 seconds to go. Luke Lambert, the coach’s son, then made one of two free throws for a 36-34 lead with 15.5 left. Northeast’s Grant Rickertsen was fouled with 7.1 to go but missed the front end of a one-and-one, with Recker rebounding.

He was fouled and hit two free throws with 4.7 left to ice it.

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This was eerily reminiscent of last year’s first (and only) postseason game for Monticello, which lost as a No. 1 seed to Tipton.

“I think we all were thinking about that,” Connor Lambert said. “We were up (nine) there starting the fourth quarter, and they just kept chipping away and chipping away. When he made that tip back and we were only up one, I think we were thinking ‘Well, can we do it? Can we get past this round?’ At the timeout, we just said we’ve been doing this all year for this moment, so let’s stay composed and finish the deal.”

Cascade (15-8) was oh, so impressive in its rout, getting five 3-pointers and 19 points from guard Michael Trumm on his 18th birthday. The Cougars lost to Regina (15-7) in the regular season, but the Regals didn’t have second-leading scorer Ashton Cook this time around, as he missed his team’s final 13 games with a broken bone in his lower leg.

That allowed Cascade to concentrate its defensive efforts on Regina’s all-state guard Masen Miller, who was held to 12 points on 5-of-23 shooting.

“That Miller guy is really good, so to be able to stop him ... I’m really proud of that,” Trumm said.

Cascade didn’t vary from its signature 2-3 zone defense but each defender followed Miller extra closely whenever he was in their individual zone.

“I told the guys that I looked at (assistant) Coach (Roamn) Hummel at the end of the game. Him and I have been doing this a long time, have been assistants a long time, but that is the most perfect execution of a defensive game plan,” said Cascade Coach Jacob Brindle. “We’ve both seen some good ones going back in the day, winning some district championship games, some substate games. But to execute like that from start to finish was great. It was our 2-3, but it wasn’t our 2-3. We did some different things there, put it in in two days, and the kids just locked in. I couldn’t be prouder of them.”

Cascade 50, Iowa City Regina 26

CASCADE (50): Carter Green 2-5 2-7 6, Caden Reinke 0-0 0-3 0, Alex Aitchison 5-5 6-7 16, Cooper Rausch 2-3 1-1 5, Michael Trumm 6-9 2-2 19, Elijah Green 2-4 0-0 4, Jackson McAleer 0-0 0-2 0, Will Potter 0-0 0-0 0, Cael McDermott 0-0 0-0 0, Hugh Molony 0-0 0-0 0, Brody Supple 0-0 0-0 0. Totals 17-26 11-22 50.

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IOWA CITY REGINA (26): Danny Molony 1-5 0-0 3, Chase Becker 1-4 0-0 2, Joshua Dutchik 1-8 0-0 2, Casey Daniel 3-6 0-0 7, Masen Miller 5-23 1-2 12, Coltrae Kerschen 0-0 0-0 0, Andrew Wiese 0-0 0-0 0, Nic Hein 0-0 0-1 0, Carson Jensen 0-0 0-0 0. Totals 11-46 1-3 26.

Halftime — Cascade 26, Regina 11. 3-point goals — Cascade 5-9 (C. Green 0-1, Rausch 0-1, Trumm 5-6, E. Green 0-1), Regina 3-20 (Molony 1-4, Daniel 1-4, Miller 1-12). Rebounds — Cascade 26 (C. Green 9), Regina 25 (Dutchik 13). Total fouls — Cascade 11, Regina 15. Fouled out — None. Turnovers — Cascade 11, Regina 8.

Monticello 38, Northeast 34

NORTHEAST (34): Dakota Stevenson 2-5 0-0 4, Cade Hughes 3-5 4-4 12, Judd Swanton 1-6 4-4 6, Grant Rickertsen 3-8 1-3 8, Trey McAleer 2-6 0-1 4, Dawson Rickords 0-1 2-2 2, Carter Pataska 0-0 0-0 0, Riley Wolfe 0-0 0-0 0. Totals 11-31 11-14 34.

MONTICELLO (38): Connor Lambert 4-9 2-2 13, Luke Lambert 2-5 1-2 7, Justin Recker 2-8 3-4 7, Ty Kehoe 3-7 0-0 8, Tate Petersen 1-4 0-2 3, Devin Kraus 0-0 0-0 0. Totals 12-33 6-10 38.

Halftime — Monticello 18, Northeast 10. 3-point goals — Northeast 3-9 (Stevenson 0-1, Hughes 2-2, Swanton 0-1, Rickertsen 1-3, McAleer 0-2), Monticello 8-20 (C. Lambert 3-7, L. Lambert 2-4, Recker 0-1, Kehoe 2-4, Petersen 1-4). Rebounds — Northeast 18 (Hughes 5), Monticello 23 (Recker 8). Total fouls — Northeast 10, Monticello 10. Fouled out — None. Turnovers — Northeast 12, Monticello 11.

Comments: (319) 398-8259; jeff.johnson@thegazette.com

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