Prep Basketball

Monticello's first boys' state basketball trip in 60 years is short, but the plan is to return

Panthers lose 2A quarterfinal to Camanche, 67-52, but return all 5 starters

DES MOINES — Next season began Tuesday morning for the Monticello boys’ basketball team. At approxmiately 10:45, give or take a few minutes.

It’s not that the Panthers wanted it to. They’d have rather continued on a glorious path that would have taken them to a state championship.

But it wasn’t meant to be ... this year. Camanche got off to a quick start and downed Monticello, 67-52, in a Class 2A state tournament quarterfinal at Wells Fargo Arena that served as the season tiebreaker between the River Valley Conference rivals.

“Now we know how to get down here,” said Monti’s Luke Lambert. “After watching all the teams and playing in it, I think we know how to win it. Come back next year bigger, stronger, faster and hopefully better. We’ll try and come back down here and win it.”

This was Monticello’s first state tournament appearance since 1960. The Panthers ended things with a 21-3 record and all five starters (Luke Lambert, Connor Lambert, Justin Recker, Ty Kehoe and Tate Petersen) returning for 2020-21.

The Lamberts and Kehoe will be three-year starters next year, Recker a rare four-year varsity player. He had a game-high 21 points in this one.

“The plan is AAU, so that will keep us all in it,” Recker said. “We’ve wanted this experience for a lifetime.”

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Monticello Coach Tim Lambert agreed that work for next season begins post haste, but he wanted to give a shout out to his four seniors first. Only Devin Kraus saw much playing time this season, though Lambert was able to get the others (Jeff Carlson, Cade Folken and Ethan Martensen) into Tuesday’s game late.

“I think next season starts after our banquet, when we honor our seniors, who created an amazing culture on our team,” Lambert said. “Three of them hardly play, but, if you watch our bench game in and game out, those kids are engaged, they’re never negative. It kind of started with last year’s seniors, but this group has carried it over. They don’t play a lot, but they’re as important to our team as (the starters).”

Camanche (22-3) rolled to a 20-7 lead after a quarter and bumped its lead to as many as 17 midway through the second. Monticello climbed back within five early in the third but got no closer, despite woeful 14-of-31 free-throw shooting by the Indians.

L.J. Henderson led Camanche with 17 points, with guard mate Cameron Soenksen adding 13 and 6-8 center Caleb Delzell 12. Each of the teams won on their home floors in the regular season.

“This was similar to the game down there,” Coach Lambert said. “They jumped us early, and we never recovered. I thought we did a good job of recovering and coming back (today). Our kids played hard, I’m so proud of them. We had some chances, cut it to five early in the third quarter ... A lot of the credit to them with their defense. They’re incredibly long and athletic, a very strong and well-coached team.”

Camanche 67, Monticello 52

AT DES MOINES

MONTICELLO (52): Justin Recker 7-15 4-4 21, Luke Lambert 2-8 1-3 5, Connor Lambert 4-9 0-0 12, Ty Kehoe 4-11 0-0 11, Tate Petersen 1-6 0-2 3, Devin Kraus 0-1 0-0 0, Tyler Luensman 0-0 0-0 0, Ethan Martensen 0-1 0-0 0, Cade Folken 0-1 0-0 0, Jeff Carlson 0-1 0-0 0. Totals 18-53 5-9 52.

CAMANCHE (67): Caleb Delzell 5-10 1-2 12, Zach Eriwn 1-3 1-4 3, L.J. Henderson 6-8 5-14 17, Cameron Soenksen 5-10 3-4 15, Jordan Lawrence 2-2 2-3 7, Ethan Buckley 1-1 0-0 3, Nolan Baker 0-0 0-0 0, Logan Shaw 0-0 0-0 0, Kyle DeWeerdt 0-0 0-0 0, Brayden Lodge 0-0 0-0 0, Dylan Darsidian 0-0 0-0 0, Mike Delzell 0-1 1-2 1, Zayne Feller 4-4 1-2 9, Payton Draper 0-0 0-0 0. Totals 24-39 14-31 67.

Halftime — Camanche 31, Monticello 23. 3-point goals — Monticello 11-30 (Recker 3-7, L. Lambert 0-3, C. Lambert 4-9, Kehoe 3-6, Petersen 1-4, Kraus 0-1), Camanche 5-11 (C. Delzell 1-2, Erwin 0-1, Soenksen 2-5, Lawrence 1-1, Buckley 1-1, M. Delzell 0-1). Rebounds — Monticello 30 (L. Lambert 10, Camanche 32 (Henderson 9). Total fouls — Monticello 19, Camanche 13. Fouled out — None. Assists — Monticello 12 (Kehoe, Petersen 4), Camanche 11 (Henderson 6). Turnovers — Monticello 12, Camanche 11.

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

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