KEOTA — The governor lifted the two people per athlete rule just in time for basketball fans to see a thrilling comeback Tuesday in South Iowa Cedar League play by the Keota girls team and a commanding performance by the Keota boys, who are ranked seventh in Class 1A.
Alas, the Keota girls lost 41-39 when HLV freshman Kadynce DeMeulenare hit a 3-pointer with 8 seconds remaining. The Keota boys stayed unbeaten with a command performance, winning 60-39.
The Eagles victory came from a defense that allowed just four points in the second quarter and 21 points from Luke Hammen.
“Driving inside was working well for me,” Hammen said. That was obvious when he drove the lane faked one way, then spun all the way around and scored an easy two. “I missed a few threes in the first half that I thought were in, so the confidence is there, but it kind of hurts when I thought for sure it was good.”
Carson Sprouse hit a pair of treys on his way to 12 Keota points. He is third in Class 1A on 3-pointers. “My teammates are the ones that set me up for all those 3-pointers and it’s just my job to capitalize when I get the chance,” he said. “The only Stout I look at is turnovers, because turning the ball over makes my blood boil. I look at wins and losses too.”
Brady Duwa blocked two shots early to get the Eagles defense going, sank one from deep to finish with nine points. Sam Sieren canned a three to finished with seven points. Wyatt Sieren scored six.
Keota is 11-0 and plays at Montezuma Friday.
“They tried to man us up early and we went right to the basket, so that was a good thing,” Keota head coach Dan Stout said. “Offensively we moved the ball well and had guys in the right spot.”
There was a stretch in the third quarter that irritated the coach because “we just let them throw the ball ahead and put our heads down and jogged back on defense. Friday night against Montezuma that’ll be a layup or a 3-point play.”
The 3-point basket to win the girls game was all on DeMeulenare.
“I did not call that play, in fact I thought we were kind of lost,” HLV head coach Kyle Schaull said. “She just took it upon herself to step up.”
Keota got the ball upcourt and got a shot but it was no good.
“I was not going to call a timeout,” Keota head coach Jeff Sprouse said. “We got a wide-open look without one and we can’t ask for anything more. We got the shot we wanted out of them, they just made it.”
Taylor Kindred had 11 points for Keota and Sky Weber added eight. Nicole Clarahan scored seven, Bailey Sieren six and Taylor Garman three, Macie McDonald scored all of her points when she made 4-of-4 free throws in the fourth quarter, the second pair with 51 seconds left for the first Keota lead since 10-7 in the first quarter. HLV scored the last six points of the initial period to lead 13-10 then had a 23-14 lead at halftime and 34-25 lead after three. It was 38-26 when Keota stepped up its defense and scored 13 straight.
“We have to be more consistent,” Coach Sprouse said. “We are getting there. But when you are 10-of-23 from the free-throw line you do not deserve to win.”
There were three straight possessions around the 4-minute mark when it was 38-34 that could’ve been the difference. Keota was down had a turnover, missed free throws and a travel.
Trailing 38-37 coming out of a HLV timeout at 1:19 remaining, the Keota defense forced a 10-second call that led to the go-ahead free throws.
“To get that with no fouls, that was just flat-out hustle,” Coach Sprouse said. “The girls were moving their feet and it was just great to see. I thought we showed a lot of poise but made mistakes when we were try to go one-on-five.”
The Eagles turned the ball over 28 times, which was an improvement from the 32 in their last game.
“When HLV applied pressure, I thought Macie and Nicole and Bailey did a great job and didn’t turn the ball over,” Coach Sprouse said. “It was in the half court instead of against that press that we made mistakes.”