April 22, 2024

Third time’s a charm for L-S boys

Seventh-ranked Hawks down Bedford to clinch state-tournament berth


CRESTON — Klayton Van Dyke and Corder Noun Harder have combined to start 178 games for the Lynnville-Sully boys’ basketball team the past four seasons.

The senior standouts have been through a lot of battles on the hardwood and led the Hawks to 46 wins the past two winters.

But the one thing missing on the resume of both players was a state tournament banner.

The Hawks were close last season. But for Van Dyke, Noun Harder and the rest of the Lynnville-Sully squad, close was not good enough.

The latest opportunity for L-S came on Saturday against Bedford, and this time the Hawks used a 14-0 run in the third quarter to grab the lead for good and finished the deal in the fourth during a 64-50 win in the Class 1A Substate 7 championship game at Southwestern Community College.

“It feels awesome. We’ve been working for this and came so close the last two years,” Noun Harder said. “All of us wanted it super bad. We knew it was going to be hard. But it feels great to finally break through and get into the tournament.”

Lynnville-Sully boys' basketball team

The 1A No. 7 Hawks led by one after one quarter and stayed in front by one at halftime. They also outscored Bedford by one in the fourth.

The 18-6 advantage in the third turned out to be the difference and the 14-0 run after the two teams traded leads five different times was the catalyst.

Lynnville-Sully scored at least 60 points for the 15th time this season and has reached that number in five straight games.

“We changed up our offense at halftime honestly,” Van Dyke said. “We went to our 2-3 zone offense and it worked. Free throws also were big. We made a bunch tonight.”

The Hawks (24-1) were 18-of-27 from the free-throw line. And most of the six 3-pointers they made felt like some of the biggest shots in the game.

Dawson James

L-S won all four of its postseason games by double digits, and its average margin of victory was 25.25 points.

“They’ve worked hard all season, but you could tell when tournament time hit, they had an even greater focus,” L-S head boys basketball coach Nick Harthoorn said. “That made me want it even more for the team, and I’m just so happy they were rewarded for their hard work.”

The Hawks take an 18-game win streak into the state tournament. They’ll be the No. 5 seed and take on fourth-seeded and fifth-ranked Winfield-Mount Union in the quarterfinals at 12:15 p.m. on March 4 inside Wells Fargo Arena in Des Moines.

Clinching a state tournament berth helps ease the pain of heartbreak the past two seasons.

The Hawks lost by three to Gladbrook-Reinbeck in a substate final last season and fell short against North Mahaska two seasons ago despite leading by three at halftime.

“We just worked hard all year, persevered through all the ups and downs and did it as a team,” L-S senior Keegan DeWitt said. “This feels amazing. We’ve been working for this for a few years.”

Lucas Sieck

Lynnville-Sully did not trail in the first quarter. The Hawks led by as many as six after Dawson James converted two buckets inside the lane.

There were four lead changes in the second. Bedford led by five after a 6-0 run, but the Hawks got back in it after James and Van Dyke each went 1-of-2 from the foul line, Noun Harder converted a layup and Lucas Sieck drained a 3-pointer.

The Hawks grabbed momentum at the end of the half. Trailing 25-21, Sieck made another 3 and then DeWitt swiped a steal and sunk a fallaway jumper at the buzzer to give L-S a lead at halftime.

“The momentum just switched. It was a great play by Keegan,” Sieck said. “Corder also made a good pass to me so I could shoot in rhythm.”

Sieck scored just two points in the Hawks’ district championship win over ACGC last week.

He had more than that seconds into the game on Saturday as he buried a 3 for the first points of the game.

Keegan DeWitt
Hendrick Lowry

Sieck scored 11 of his team-high 16 points in the first half against the Bulldogs. He was 6-of-9 from the floor and 4-of-6 from deep in the game and added six assists.

He was the fourth different leading scorer in the Hawks’ four playoff games. The second leading scorer also has been three different guys.

“I knew our team was going to need someone to step up in this game,” Sieck said. “Bedford’s a good, well-coached team. They were here for a reason. It seems to be someone different every night for us. Tonight, I was just hot and found a way to put it in the basket.”

The two teams went back and forth early in the third. The lead switched hands six different times.

But the 14-0 run midway through the period created the separation L-S needed to take over the game.

Six different Hawks scored during that stretch. It started with a Van Dyke bucket inside and then Mitchell Miller made two free throws.

Mitchell Miller

Perhaps the biggest stretch of the game came when Sieck, Noun Harder and DeWitt drained consecutive 3s to extend the lead to double digits.

“That was huge for us. We finally stretched it out there and they never really caught back up,” Noun Harder said. “Then we worked it back inside and played our ball.”

The Hawks led 44-31 after three. Conner Nally opened the fourth with back-to-back 3s to get Bedford (23-3) within seven, but L-S answered with a 12-0 run to finish off the Bulldogs.

Five Hawks scored on that spurt. James opened the run with 3-point play. Miller then scored on a drive to the bucket before Sieck buried a pull up jumper from the baseline.

Miller added a pair of free throws and Noun Harder converted a tough layup to cap the run. Bedford ended the game on an 8-2 run, but it was not enough.

“We slowed our pace down offensively, looked our passes off and were more patient,” Miller said about the team’s second-half performance. “That really helped us. We eventually got a few stops and scored at the other end to create some separation.”

Klayton Van Dyke

Miller scored all six of his points in the second half and grabbed three rebounds despite being under the weather. He was 4-of-4 from the foul line, too.

Miller said he never considered missing the game.

“I got sick this morning. But I pushed through it to play the game with my boys,” Miller said. “I wasn’t going to miss the game. If I broke a finger, I would have still tried to play. If I didn’t play and we didn’t win, I wouldn’t feel great about that.”

Noun Harder scored 11 of his 15 points in the second half and added four rebounds, four assists and two steals. He was 8-of-10 from the foul line with four of those makes coming in the final 1:03 of the game.

Van Dyke added 11 points, five rebounds, two steals and four blocks and James chipped in 11 points and seven boards. DeWitt tallied five points, two rebounds and three steals.

The Hawks shot 44.4 percent from the floor, made 6-of-17 from 3 and committed only 12 turnovers.

The Bulldogs made 42 percent from the field, drained 9-of-18 from 3 and committed 17 turnovers. They were 5-of-6 from the foul line.

Corder Noun Harder

Cal Peterman, Bedford’s best player, finished with 13 points, nine rebounds and five assists. Marcus Knighton connected on 4-of-7 from 3 and scored a team-best 14 points.

Nally and Garrison Motsinger each scored nine points. Nally was 3-of-4 from deep.

“Sieck and DeWitt worked really hard on (Peterman), but it does take a whole team defense,” Harthoorn said. “We knew we had to shade a few shooters for him and they made some 3s against us. We probably would have liked to do a better job guarding the 3-point line, but we did enough to win.”

Notes: The Hawks are making their first trip to the state tournament since going in back-to-back seasons in 2016-17 and 2017-18. The last state tournament win for L-S came in 2009-10. “It makes it a lot sweeter,” Van Dyke said about losing in this round the past two seasons. “We know we are not done yet, but it’s awesome to see that banner. We’ve worked hard for it.” … Harthoorn guided the Hawks to the state tournament for the fifth time in his 17 seasons as head coach. “We really buckled down defensively and got some stops,” Harthoorn said about the second-half run. “And we got the ball inside at the other end without turning it over. Once we got it in there deep, (James) and (Van Dyke) made them pay.”