Kirkwood holds off Iowa Central men

The Iowa Central men couldn’t find that one magical rally Saturday afternoon versus Kirkwood.

Each time the Tritons would cut the deficit down, the Eagles would answer, as Kirkwood posted a 69-63 victory and completed the season sweep.

Iowa Central (15-12 overall, 5-6 in ICCAC) made just 50-percent of its shots at the free throw line, an area of concern all year for veteran head coach Dennis Pilcher.

“I was worried early on about our shooting from the line, but we’ve done better (there) over the past few games,” Pilcher said. “(Saturday) it caught up with us, and was a big reason we lost.”

Jesse Jones tallied 15 points, five rebounds and four steals for the Tritons, while Jawad Adekoya added 14. Sophomores Rhys Elliot and David Andersen each scored 12, with Andersen grabbing 11 boards.

“Give our kids plenty of credit, because they continued to fight and never gave up,” Pilcher said. “But give Kirkwood credit, because they always had an answer for us each time we made a run on them.”

The Eagles (16-11, 7-4) were led by Kasey Semler’s 16 points and Gage Heffernan’s 15. Heffernan also pulled down 12 rebounds, while J.C. Fuller added seven points and nine boards off the bench.

Fuller helped lead Sioux City East to the Class 4A state finals last year and 21 wins.

Kirkwood never trailed, and led by as many as a dozen in the first half after stringing together a 14-1 run. Heffernan scored nine in the opening 20 minutes, as the Eagles knocked down six of their nine three-pointers.

The deficit would swell to as many as 15 at the eight-minute mark of the second half, but behind Jones and Adekoya, Iowa Central was able to cut it to four with less than a minute left.

“We had to use a lot of energy to get back in the game several times there, and I think that caught up to us,” Pilcher said. “I thought Jesse and Rhys each did a great job, especially considering they both played all 40 minutes. And Jawad had a nice game on the offensive end, as well.

“We just didn’t get the same production from our role players like we have been getting this year.”

The Tritons hit the road this Wednesday for a meeting with Clinton (6-18, 1-11). Next home action is Saturday vs. No. 12 (NJCAA, Div. II) Iowa Lakes (19-5, 10-2).