COLFAX — Lynnville-Sully’s boys’ basketball team delivered punch after punch to Colfax-Mingo on Tuesday night during a South Iowa Cedar League contest.
But the Tigerhawks got up each time the Hawks landed a blow. And it wasn’t until the final seconds that the Hawks finally put the home team away.
Junior Bray Noun Harder scored 25 points, senior Tyson Vander Linden put in 21, and the duo hit 10 free throws in the final two minutes to close out a 78-72 win.
The Hawks made only 17-of-37 from the free-throw line but hit enough to close out a Tigerhawk team who just wouldn’t go away.
“We got off to a good start, but were unable to put them away,” L-S coach Nick Harthoorn said. “We were far from perfect, but I think we continue to take steps in the right direction.
“We made enough free throws, but we always want to be better. We’ll continue to work on that.”
Colfax-Mingo junior Brady Berkey scored a career-high 36 points in a loss. The Tigerhawks also got a career-high 18 points from freshman Cole Bracewell and sophomore David Rague scored 11 points and grabbed eight rebounds.
Colfax-Mingo trailed by 12 in the first quarter and fell behind by 16 in the second quarter before rallying to get to single digits before halftime.
The Hawks led by 10 after three quarters, but Colfax-Mingo got within one on a 3-pointer by Berkey with 45 seconds to go in the game. The Hawks pulled away in the final 40 seconds after making five shots from the line.
“The kids have always worked hard. I have never questioned their effort. That’s been true in practice and in the games,” Colfax-Mingo coach Mark Rague said. “If we continue to do that, good things will happen.”
The Hawks scored the first eight points of the game, and Vander Linden’s layup put his team up 11-3. Berkey got his team within 13-9 with a free throw, but L-S led 22-10 after one quarter following a 9-1 run to end the frame.
Vander Linden had to go to the bench in the second quarter because of fouls, and that allowed Colfax-Mingo to get back into the game.
Noun Harder splashed home a 3-pointer early in the second quarter to put the Hawks up 15. L-S stayed in front by that margin until Colfax-Mingo used a 12-0 run to close within four.
Bracewell and Berkey hit back-to-back 3-pointers, senior Zarek Hill made a layup and a three-point play by Bracewell made it 31-27. Bracewell kept the Tigerhawks close with a layup late in the half and L-S led by five at halftime.
“We needed someone to make shots. He had himself mentally prepared,” Coach Rague said of Bracewell. “There’s going to be growing pains, but he did many more good things than bad.”
Harthoorn said his team simply had a hard time guarding Berkey and Bracewell, and the fouls kept Colfax-Mingo in the game.
“We had trouble slowing up a few of their guys. I felt like we let up defensively in the second quarter and they took advantage of that,” Harthoorn said. “They got to the two-shot bonus early and that changed the half a little bit. That allowed them to get back into the game.”
The Tigerhawks managed to stay close early in the third. L-S tried to deliver another knockout blow with a 10-2 run. Vander Linden hit back-to-back layups in the quarter to put the Hawks up 49-36.
“After they made a good comeback, we needed something to change momentum,” Vander Linden said. “That was a good stretch for us.”
But once again, Colfax-Mingo fought back.
A trey by Berkey and back-to-back 3-pointers by Bracewell closed the gap to four, but the Hawks got four in a row to go back up eight. They wound up leading by 10 after three quarters.
The lead stayed double-digits midway through the fourth and Vander Linden appeared to hit a dagger 3-pointer to put L-S up 12.
The Tigerhawks though had other ideas. Berkey got the deficit back to single digits with a layup and then closed the gap to seven with a 3-pointer. A putback by Bracewell trimmed the margin to five with 1:34 to play.
That’s when Colfax-Mingo forced L-S to make free throws down the stretch. And while the Hawks missed 20 shots from the line in the game, they made enough in the final two minutes to close it out.
Rague hit a 3-pointer with 1:13 to play and Berkey connected on a triple to make it a one-point game with 45 seconds to go. But the home team didn’t score again, and the Hawks closed it out from the line.
“Your true character shows in tough games like this,” Harthoorn said. “We just have to continue to get tougher and grow as a team. This group is full of guys who haven’t played a ton of varsity basketball. The more games we have like this, the more it will help us gel and get tougher as a team.”
Colfax-Mingo battled and never quit, but the Tigerhawks have a lot to work on from a mental aspect, according to Coach Rague.
“We are still learning. We have a lot of room to grow with the mental aspect of the game,” Coach Rague said. “If we can get to that point, we’ll be in a lot better position late in the games. I love that we can scratch and claw and stay in it, but we have to learn the game as well.”
Berkey made five 3-pointers in the game and was 11-of-18 from the line. He also had eight rebounds, two assists and two blocks.
“There is not a single kid that is going to question why he has the ball in his hands so much,” Coach Rague said about Berkey. “Even scoring 36, Brady still gave the ball up a ton and found open teammates. They are playing for each other and playing team ball.”
Bracewell added nine rebounds to his 18 points. Hill grabbed 11 rebounds and sophomore A.J. Gibson had five boards. The Tigerhawks were 16-of-29 from the free-throw line and 10-of-36 from 3-point range in the loss.
“We practice free throws every day. All of us have things to improve on, and Brady is included in that,” Coach Rague said. “He showed a lot of leadership tonight. There is a lot of improving going on with this team. We are not there yet. That opportunity tonight will help us grow as a team.”
Noun Harder also had seven rebounds, four assists and two steals to go with his 25 points. Vander Linden had three rebounds, two assists and two steals to go with his 21 points.
Senior Rylan James tallied a double-double with 10 points and 10 rebounds and junior Blaize Kuhlmann added nine points, 11 boards and four assists.
Lynnville-Sully hosts HLV at 7:30 p.m. on Friday in Sully. Colfax-Mingo hosts BGM at 7:30 p.m. on Friday in Colfax.
Lynnville-Sully 22-13-22-21 — 78
Colfax-Mingo 10-20-17-25 — 72
Lynnville-Sully (FG/3pt-FT-F-TP) — Tyson Vander Linden 7/3-4-4-21, Bray Noun Harder 8/1-8-3-25, Gage Vander Leest 1-1-2-3, Blaize Kuhlmann 4-1-3-9, Rylan James 4-2-3-10, Kinnick McFarland 2-1-3-5, Zane Fraker 1-0-3-2, Grant Wehrle 1-1-0-3. Totals 28/5-17-21-78.
Colfax-Mingo (FG/3pt-FT-F-TP) — Brady Berkey 10/5-11-4-36, Zarek Hill 1-0-4-2, Zach Steenhoek 0-0-3-0, David Rague 3/2-3-5-11, Jake Nichols 1-0-5-2, Colton Lind 0-0-2-0, A,J. Gibson 1-1-2-3, Wyatt Gull 0-0-1-0. Totals 23/10-16-28-72.