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Headed to the free-throw line up one point with 17 seconds left, Caleb Gingerich had a big one-and-one opportunity in front of him in a game at Highland High School on Dec. 21. He sank both.
That gave Iowa Mennonite a 51-48 lead. Highland called timeout with 11 seconds left and drew up what would be their final play.
The ball went in to Mason McFarland, who after a couple passes ended up with the ball again five feet from the 3-point line with time winding down. He threw up a contested shot. It swirled the rim but didn’t stay down, giving Iowa Mennonite the win.
“I just felt like each guy did some good things for our team, and it was truly a team win,” Iowa Mennonite coach Dwight Gingerich said.
Highland coach Marcus Hall said the final play had intended to get a look at a three for McFarland or he had the option to pass it to Zack Lasek for a three in the corner.
“It got discombobulated, but I told the guys that comes on me to get a better look there,” Hall said.
Down 23-7 early in the second quarter, Iowa Mennonite used a prolonged run to cut a 16-point deficit to just one at halftime. Gingerich said a big part of that was his team settling in and playing man defense.
“We settled in and played man-to-man defense really. I think early we were trying to focus on Zack Lasek and McFarland, not having Trey Lasek or (Cole) Adamson in the lineup,” Gingerich said.
That ended up hurting them. Early on Brody Burton, Bill Laughlin and Bryce Waters all hit 3-pointers during Highland’s early success.
Gingerich said once IMS started giving everyone equal focus, things started to get better.
On the offensive end, Eli Ours started off slowly, missing his first three shots. After making a 3-pointer, Ours exploded the rest of the half and finished with 15 first-half points. He finished with 23 in the game to lead Iowa Mennonite.
The second half was a back-and-forth game, with the lead for either team being no more than three points. Highland took a 37-36 lead into the fourth quarter.
Cody Jones hit the first bucket of the fourth quarter and Iowa Mennonite was off to the races, going on a 6-0 run to take a 42-37 lead.
Gingerich said he saw his team’s patience come out in the fourth quarter and it lead to great shot selection and easy points.
“Just keep playing, don’t overthink. I think we allowed ourselves to read the situation and attack gaps,” Gingerich said.
Highland had three hit double figures with Mason McFarland, Cole Adamson and Zack Lasek all scoring 10 points.
The win puts Iowa Mennonite at a 6-2 record at the break, and they have won four straight games. They are 6-2 in conference play and sit a half-game back of Pekin at 6-1.
Highland is 5-2 in conference play. Their next game is at Lone Tree on Jan. 4.