Early Deficit Dooms West Branch In District Semifinal


Photo by Norv Coblentz

Ryan Murken

Your Prep Sports

CASCADE – Over the last month West Branch had made a habit of start strong.

The Bears picked the wrong time and the wrong team to fall behind early on Thursday.

Sixth-ranked Cascade (21-1) jumped to a 16-5 first-quarter lead and never let West Branch back in the game in a 61-51 win in the nightcap of a Class 2A, District 8 semifinal doubleheader in Cascade.

Cascade advanced to the District 8 title game where it will face Regina (18-3) on Tuesday at Maquoketa while West Branch closed the season 13-10.

“We got down early and that’s a hard thing in a game like this and they definitely aren’t a team you want to play from behind against,” West Branch coach Tom Burger said. “They aren’t going to take bad shots, they have five guys that can handle the ball.

They are in the top five of the state for a reason.”

Cascade used hot shooting, balanced scoring and a smothering 2-3 zone defense to bounce back from a loss in its regular season fine.

In its first action since a 58-50 loss to Northeast on February 6 Cascade show no signs of rust early. 

The Cougars hit 6-of-10 first-quarter field goal attempts, including 4-of-16 from 3-point range and closed the quarter with eight straight points to take a commanding 16-5 lead.

West Branch started 2-of-13 from the floor in the first quarter and could never recover.

“We kept saying on the bench as a coach staff we are getting good shots they are just not falling,” Burger said. “It seemed like every little bounce went the other way. That happens unfortunately that’s basketball.”

Tanner Lukavsky had a pair of 3-pointers in the opening four minutes of the second quarter as West Branch got as close as 21-14.

That was as close as the Bears would get as the Cascade 2-3 zone caused problems all game.

“For the first part of the game I thought we were a little scared and then when we finally got going we just weren’t hitting shots,” Lukavsky said. “They are really long and they are fast so it’s a good combo for them. It’s hard to get around them in that zone.”

Playing with a lead the Cougars were patient and potent on offense.

Cascade closed the game by making 7-of-8 fourth-quarter field goal attempts and led by as many as 22 in the fourth quarter before a late West Branch surge in the final four minutes.

“I have to give our kids credit they didn’t quit,” Burger said. “We were still trying to draw charges and play the right way. Our guys compete every night and I told them they are going to go far in life because they are great competitors.

Senior Ben Thompson had 16 points and five rebounds to lead West Branch while Beau Cornwell had 15 points and seven boards but was 5-of-19 from the field.

Lukavsky added 11 points and six rebounds.

Brock Simon led four Cascade players in double figures with 13 points as the Cougars shot 61 percent for the game.

“They dictate the tempo, everybody thinks they play a 2-3 zone and they are sitting back but they are aggressive and it’s worked for them for years,” Burger said. “They don’t have any big guys but they just move well without the ball and they attack you.”

West Branch              5   14   7   25  –  51

Cascade                    16  15  12  18  –  61

West Branch (61) – Cade Aspelmeier 0-1 0-0 0, Beau Cornwell 5-19 4-5 15, Brady Lukavsky 1-5 0-0 3, Brett Schiele 1-2 0-0 3, Tanner Lukavsky 4-12 0-0 11, Ben Thompson 6-11 2-4 16, Ted Bridges 1-2 0-0 3, Team 18-52 6-9 51.

Cascade (61) – Brock Simon 5-6 2-2 13, Derek Koppes 4-6 0-0 10, Williams Rolin 0-0 2-3 2, John Supple 5-6 0-0 11, Reid Rausch 3-5 1-2 9, Gannon O’Brien 3-6 0-0 6, Haris Hoffman 3-9 3-3 10, Team 12-38 8-10 61.

3-point field goals – WB 9-26 (Aspelmeier 0-1, Cornwell 1-8, B. Lukavsky 1-4, Schiele 1-1, T. Lukavsky 3-8, Thompson 2-3, Bridges 1-1); CAS 7-15 (Simon 1-1, Koppes 2-4, Supple 1-1, Rausch 2-4, O’Brien 0-2, Hoffman 1-3). Rebounds – WB 23 (Cornwell 7); CAS 28 (Supple, Hoffman, O’Brien 6). Turnovers – WB 7; CAS 12. Total fouls – WB 11; CAS 8. Fouled out – None. Technical fouls – None.