DES MOINES – Rankings and records never mean much at state tournament time.
The Newell-Fonda boys basketball team experienced that the hard way here on Monday afternoon.
Seeing their perfect season come to a disappointing halt, the top-seeded Mustangs (25-1 overall) dropped a 72-57 decision to No. 8 seed West Lyon in a Class 1A quarterfinal at Wells Fargo Arena.
Despite leading by four points entering the fourth quarter, second-rated Newell-Fonda was outscored 30-11 over the last eight minutes in its lowest offensive output of the year. As a collective unit, the Mustangs shot only 40 percent from the field and 60 percent at the charity stripe.
“Our kids left it all on the floor, but we just got beat by a better team (yesterday),” said N-F head coach Paul Loos, who previously directed the Mustangs to state titles in 1991, ’97, ’99 and ’00. “I thought once (the Wildcats) got in the flow offensively that we backpedaled on their run. We just didn’t have any answers for them late in the game.”
Brady Dicks, a junior, contributed a double-double for Newell-Fonda with 15 points and 10 rebounds. The 6-foot-3 forward notched 11 points and seven boards before the break.
“We just focused on defense and boxing out, which worked for awhile, but then (West Lyon) started hitting their shots,” Dicks said. “We put in a lot of hard work this year to get to (the state quarterfinal). Unfortunately, (our season) didn’t end up the way we wanted it to. My hat’s off to West Lyon.”
Junior Adam Mullen (11) and senior Dillon Anderson (10) were the other top offensive performers for the Twin Lakes Conference champion Mustangs, who jumped in front by as many as eight early in the second half on a Mullen layup. Mullen also posted six rebounds, two steals and two blocks, while Anderson dished out four assists.
“I don’t know, we just fell apart,” said Mullen. “I don’t know how we couldn’t get our momentum back from the first half.
“They just came at us with all they had.”
In crunch time, Newell-Fonda endured a costly 6:12 drought without a field goal. During that same pivotal stretch, West Lyon gained control behind a 26-4 flurry.
“We were able to get No. 13 (Brandon Snyder) and No. 43 (Cody Bauman) in early foul trouble, but then they came out and made some nice adjustments in the second half,” Loos said. “At the end of the third, and the start of the fourth, they hit a lot of contested shots.”
Kyle Groeneweg sparked the balanced attack for the Wildcats (21-5) with 18 points. Kacey Myrlie, Snyder and Kaleb Heyer netted 14, 12 and 11, respectively, for West Lyon. Snyder – a future Iowa Hawkeye football player – added eight assists, while Bauman grabbed eight boards. Snyder’s triple from the right wing with 6:48 remaining gave the Wildcats a 49-48 advantage, which they never relinquished.
“We came into the game knowing that everyone is 0-0, and we found a way to win (Monday),” said Snyder. “(The Mustangs) are probably the best team we’ve played this season, but we responded in the second half and made a statement.
“We knew we were going to make a run.”
Dillon Anderson, Dalton Anderson, Brady Bohe and Gabe Podraza all wrapped up their Newell-Fonda careers on the hardwood.
“We had a fantastic season,” Loos said. “I’m so proud of the fight our kids showed.”
This year’s trip to Des Moines was the ninth in school history for the Mustangs, while West Lyon is making its state debut after knocking off previously unbeaten and top-ranked LeMars Gehlen in the substate final.
“These guys who are making these rankings have never seen us play,” said Snyder. “We’ve been playing teams in 3A and 2A all year long (the
Wildcats placed third in the Siouxland Conference at 14-4).
Last fall, Newell-Fonda was an 8-man state semifinalist in football, and West Lyon is the
the defending Class A state champion.
No. 4 seed Keota (25-1) now awaits the Wildcats in a 1A semifinal here Thursday morning at 10:30 a.m. The ninth-rated Eagles advanced with a 56-47 victory over fifth-seeded and 10th-ranked Easton Valley.