Western Christian edges past West Lyon in the district final

LEMARS-After the first eight minutes of play, West Lyon gave top-ranked Western Christian all it could handle but with 3.5 seconds left, a Wolfpack steal ended with a 59-58 Western Christian victory in Class 2A District 2 boys’ basketball tournament play Tuesday, Feb. 21, in LeMars.

Fans on both sides of the court were big and loud, giving the two teams a quick boost of energy in the first quarter.

“Great atmosphere for district (tournament) basketball; huge crowds. We were fortunate to come out with the win,” said Wolfpack coach Bill Harmsen.

But despite the extra crowd noise, Harmsen noted his team would be in for a battle.

“West Lyon is a great team. They are so athletic, physical and fast. A very difficult team to play against,” he said.

The Wildcats took an early lead at 4-0. Western Christian countered with a 9-1 run to take a lead midway through the frame. West Lyon kept its deficit between 2 to 3 points with 2:23 remaining in the quarter, but the Wolfpack rallied again for 10-straight points and took a 22-11 advantage into the second quarter.

The Wildcats did not take long to respond, getting three-straight layups, to decrease the deficit to 22-17 and forcing coach Harmsen to signal for a timeout. The two teams traded baskets and free throws with each other for the remainder of the second period, but Western Christian went on enough of a run to take a 9-point lead for halftime.

West Lyon continued to claw away at the Wolfpack in the third quarter as the Wildcats trimmed the deficit to 38-34 with 6:08 left on the clock. But that was all the closer West Lyon could get in the period as Western Christian used a 10-3 run with two minutes remaining to claim a 48-37 lead.

The Wildcats punched back, using free throws to spark a 7-0 run at the end of the third and the start of the fourth to decrease the deficit to 50-46 with 7:03 left in the contest. The Wolfpack countered to pump their lead back up to 53-46. But the Wildcats stayed resilient, getting two free throws and two transition layups to trim the lead to 1 at 53-52 with 3:35 left to play. West Lyon soon tied the game at 55 with a 3-pointer, before taking its first lead of the half at 57-55 with a layup.

That lead was short-lived as Western Christian set up a play for Jesse Jansma in the post and Jansma hit the shot to tie the game again at 57 with 2:08 left. The Wildcats elected to hold the ball, trim the clock and wait for an opportunity to take the last shot of the game. The ball eventually went to Noah Van’t Hof. Van’t Hof was fouled with 48.7 seconds remaining, sending him to the line for two free throws. Van’t Hof made one of the two attempts, giving the Wolfpack an opportunity to take the lead.

Western Christian got a good look for Jansma right away, who hit the shot and gave the Wolfpack a 59-58 edge with 27.6 ticks left. West Lyon called a timeout to set up an offensive play but, immediately following that timeout, coach Harmsen signaled for a timeout to set up the Wolfpack defense.

Following the timeouts, the Wildcats inbounded the ball but were faced with immediate pressure by Tyson Kooima. Kooima stole the ball and was immediately fouled with 3.5 seconds left in the game. But West Lyon only had four team fouls which resulted in Western Christian having to take the ball out-of-bounds. The Wildcats had good defensive pressure, but Western Christian was able put the ball in play and seal their date with Sioux Center in the Class 2A Sub-state 1 game Saturday at MOC-Floyd Valley.

“We had the lead to 11 multiple times, and we had opportunities to expand that lead as well, but we just couldn’t get it done. West Lyon showed a lot of resiliency to come back and take the lead,” Harmsen said. “I was very proud of our guys to fight through adversity and make just enough plays to win the game. I never saw any panic from our guys, which is a huge growth point for us. We’re feeling great about advancing and are looking forward to playing once again for the chance to go to the state tournament.”

The Wolfpack went 25-of-55 from the field for 45 percent and were 3-of-12 for 25 percent from the 3-point line. Western Christina also shot 6-of-7 for 86 percent from the free-throw line.

Individual statistics

Points:Jesse Jansma 23, Jacob Vis 15, Ben Gesink 6, Ben Granstra 6

Rebounds:Jacob Vis 8, Jesse Jansma 8, Carter Broek 6, Layne Miller 5, Ben Gesink 5

Assists:Jesse Jansma 4, Caleb Harmsen 3, Tyson Kooima 2

Steals:Ben Gesink 3, Carter Broek 2

Blocks:Jacob Vis 4, Carter Broek 1

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