CEDAR RAPIDS — When he saw the Class 3A pairings for the boys’ state basketball tournament late last week, David Kutcher didn’t flinch, didn’t even give them a second thought.
There was nothing.
“It was no different emotionally than facing any other team,” Kutcher said.
That’s despite the history here. The small-worldish of this situation.
Clear Creek Amana is at state for the first time since back-to-back appearances in 1992 and 1993. One of the best players on those outstanding Clippers teams, an all-state guard, was David Kutcher.
Mount Vernon’s best player right now is junior wing Keaton Kutcher, David’s boy. Mount Vernon and Clear Creek Amana play a state tournament quarterfinal at Wells Fargo Arena in Des Moines at 2:45 p.m. Tuesday afternoon.
“As far as it goes for me, it’s just another game, ultimately,” said Keaton Kutcher. “It’s obviously really cool that my dad went there and was successful there when he played, and now they are obviously doing very well again ... They have an incredible culture there, which you can see in their student section and how well their fans travel. It’s cool to think my dad got to be a part of that once.”
“You know, CCA has changed so much over the years,” David Kutcher said. “The merger with Amana actually took place my freshman year of high school. and that really gave our basketball program a boost ... When you look at the growth of Tiffin, in a lot of ways the school feels much different. Even with all of the growth, my parents still live in the district, I have old friends still in the district, new friends with kids in the district, friends who teach in the district. It’s always fun to play down there and look up in the stands during warmups and share smiles with old familiar faces.”
David Kutcher said he hadn’t talked to his old CCA Coach Bryce Smeins for over a year, but Smeins suddenly showed up at Mount Vernon’s substate semifinal game two weeks ago. He told Kutcher he wanted to watch Keaton play.
Clear Creek Amana made it to the Class 1A final in 1992, losing to Iowa Mennonite. It moved up to 2A the following season and lost in the quarterfinals to Raef LaFrentz and MFL MarMac.
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“It was a truly special team to be part of. We just had a lot of kids who loved to play ball,” David Kutcher said. “If we didn’t have open gym at CCA, we were all at (Iowa City) West playing with (Coach Steve) Bergman’s kids or up at the Field House looking for pickup games. Seemed like all we ever did was play basketball.
“You don’t see guys a lot anymore, but the friendships never end.”
Keaton Kutcher averages 20 points a game for a Mount Vernon team that is 22-2 and beat CCA (19-5) very early in the regular season, 69-52. The Mustangs won the Wamac Conference East Division and overall championships.
His jumper with three seconds left gave Mount Vernon a substate final win over DeWitt Central last Monday and sent the Mustangs to state for the first time since 2012.
“I was actually telling (Mount Vernon) Coach (Ed) Timm this week how many similarities there are between our Mount Vernon season and our 1993 team at CCA,” David Kutcher said. “We had a great rivalry with West Liberty, had two great battles with them during the regular season, then met them again in the substate final. It was a hard-fought game, back and forth. In the end, they gained the lead, and we won the game when (Shawn) Stimmel buried a 3 in the corner. How ironic that Mount Vernon and DeWitt went down much the same way with Keaton hitting a game-winning 3 at the end.”
“Obviously, my dad and I are both Mustangs now, and we are very excited for a chance to play at state, no matter who it may be against,” Keaton Kutcher said. “I’ve always cheered for CCA when they aren’t playing us, just like I know he is, and have nothing but good things to say about them. Should be a very good game Tuesday. We have to come prepared and just play our game.”
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