WINFIELD — Many Iowa high schools postponed their basketball games on Friday night due to weather concerns, but Winfield-Mt. Union wasn’t about to delay a celebration 25-years in the making.
On a night when W-MU alumni celebrated the 25th-anniversary of the Wolves’ double state championship in 1994-95, W-MU went 1-1 against Medipolis, winning the boys game 58-45 and falling 60-38 in the girls contest.
The W-MU boys used an incredible shooting night from Christian Gerot and Jared Arnold to pick up the SEISC North Division win. Gerot and Arnold combined for 11 made three-pointers to bury the Bulldogs from deep.
W-MU led 14-12 after one quarter and 25-22 at half. In the third quarter, Gerot scored 11 points and Arnold scored nine to help the Wolves push the lead to 45-32 after three periods. Mediapolis was never able to recover.
Gerot finished the night with six three-pointers, scoring 24 points to lead the Wolves.
“Last year, we were a good shooting team,” Gerot said. “We just haven’t shot the ball very well this year. We’ve been getting in the gym a lot on the weekends and on off days and we just keep shooting.”
Arnold hit five threes on the night, scoring 19 points and also leading the team with two steals. Ty Yocum had six points. Daunte Oepping finished with four points, 11 rebounds and seven assists. Bryce Wade had four points, and Juanito Piper scored one.
“When you shoot it like that from three, it makes it a lot easier,” W-MU boys coach Klay Edwards said. “They were keying on Daunte in the middle, and he did a great job of finding open guys, and Jared and Christian did an excellent job of finishing.”
Coach Edwards said it was especially nice in front of a gym that was packed from tip-off time.
“For the kids to play the way they did in front of all these people was huge,” Edwards said. “Our fan support has been amazing forever. Even when we were struggling through some pretty tough seasons, we’ve always had a lot of people here.”
The Lady Wolves didn’t back down against a Bullette team that came into the game with just one loss and holding onto the No. 12 spot in Class 2A. After losing the first quarter, W-MU scrapped back to take the second quarter 17-13, cutting Mediapolis’ lead to 29-18 at halftime.
“I was very disappointed in the way we started out,” head coach Mitch Wachs said. “I didn’t think we started out in attack mode, so I was disappointed in that. We got down 16-1, and then we started playing. We found a spark and we made a few things happened.”
Mediapolis was able to survive the scare by taking the next two quarters and eventually pulling away with an 18-point fourth period.
Bradie Buffington had 11 points and six rebounds in the loss. Melina Oepping finished with eight points and six rebounds. Kyndal Townsley had six points. Keetyn Townsley scored five. Jami Wilkerson and Farrah Nelson scored two points apiece, and Keely Malone led the team with five assists.
Wachs, who was in just his third season of coaching the Lady Wolves in the 1994-95 season, reminisced about the championship season after the game.
“It was unbelievable,” Wachs said. “The gyms were packed every night.”
Wachs’ W-MU girls team played three-straight thrillers to advance to the championship in 1995. The Wolves beat Harmony in the regional final, 56-51, outlasted Bellevue 49-43 in the state quarterfinals and survived Newell-Fonda 64-62 in the semis. When championship night came, the Wolves dominated Northeast Hamilton 65-29.
One week later, the W-MU boys finished off a dominant postseason run. The W-MU boys won every tournament game by double-digits, including an 82-71 win over Highland to advance to state, a 64-46 win over Woodbine in the state quarterfinals, a 66-53 win over West-Bend Mallard in the semifinals and a 64-46 win over Pomeroy-Palmer to take home the school’s second first-place trophy of the winter.
Between the two games, members of both championship teams were honored at center court. Wachs, and former boys head coach Mike Koelker gave speeches in front of a sea of Wolves’ fans.
The current Wolves will next play when Pekin comes to town on Tuesday, Jan. 14. The boys are currently 4-6 and the girls are 6-6.