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Camanche barely escapes Bears’ defensive fire
by Norv and Mary Coblentz · Sports · March 02, 2017


It was a great ride, but the West Branch Bears’ boys basketball team’s fine season ended Feb. 25.


The team fell to fellow River Valley Conference team Camanche in the substate game 86-80 Feb. 25 at Muscatine. Senior Cooper Kabela, in his last basketball game as a Bear, scored 32 points and had 10 rebounds and seven blocks.

It was a contest between the top team of the RVC North Division — Camanche — and the top team in the RVC South Division — West Branch.

“I think we ran out of gas,” West Branch Head Coach Tom Burger said. “Sometimes you can’t see it physically, but mentally you can see it. Our guys played their hearts out. You can’t take that away from them. I think Camanche had more gas in the tank, and that’s a hard system to play against.

“They made some nice adjustments. We had some open shots and just didn’t knock them down. I thought our kids played with fire. We didn’t get embarrassed. We’re always going to have a South District Championship, we’re going to have a district title. I haven’t looked at all the records yet, but I bet there were some records that might have been broken this year.

“I think Cooper (Kabela) is the reason that the future of West Branch basketball was put back on the map tonight. There’s been a lot of good players that have graduated from West Branch, and I think he’s going to be right up there with one of the most decorated careers.

“I think it’s because of the teammates he had this year. They’re unselfish kids. It’s hard to average 23 points like he did this year. You’ve got to have help, and he had help this year.

“They’re a really good group of kids that are a family, and that’s huge.

“We’re playing sophomores (including starters Ted Bridges and Beau Cornwell), and (starter) Tanner Lukavsky is a freshman. We’re hoping to be at this stage next year again and hopefully these situations will put us in the position to be in Des Moines in the future.

Kabela’s opening tip went to Bridges. Bridges got an offensive rebound, and Kabela scored the first points of the game. The Indians were fouled and made the first of two free throws. Cornwell got the rebound. Camanche was fouled after a steal and made both free throws for a 3-2 Camanche lead. The Indians got a steal and a basket to take a 5-2 lead. Ben Thompson made a short jumper for a 5-4 score. Kabela got a defensive rebound. T. Lukavsky was fouled on a shot and made both free throws for a 6-5 West Branch lead. Camanche answered with a three-point basket. The Indians were fouled and made both free throws for a 10-6 Camanche lead. Cornwell made a three-point basket, and Camanche answered with a three-pointer.

Camanche got a defensive rebound but stepped on the baseline for a turnover. Cornwell made another three-point basket for a 13-12 score with Camanche in the lead. Camanche made a layup, then Kabela made a layup for a 15-14 Indians lead. T. Lukavsky got a defensive rebound, and Cornwell scored with a jumper for a 16-15 West Branch lead with 1:10 on the clock. The Indians got a putback basket, then Thompson scored. T. Lukavsky got a defensive rebound at the buzzer. The score after a quarter’s play was 18-17, West Branch.

Camanche made a three-point basket to start the second-quarter scoring, taking a 20-18 lead. Kabela answered with a trey for a 21-20 West Branch edge. Kabela got a defensive rebound, then Cornwell made a three-point basket for a 24-20 score. Kabela was fouled on a shot and made one free throw. Camanche scored, then Cornwell hit another three-pointer. A jumper by the Indians made it 28-24, Bears. Thompson scored under the basket, assist Kabela. Cornwell got a defensive rebound. Cornwell drove to the hoop, shot the ball out to Kabela, and Kabela made a three-point basket for a 33-24 West Branch lead. Camanche took a time out with 4:38 left in the half then scored a basket. The Indians got a defensive rebound, then scored again for a 33-28 score. After a West Branch foul, the Indians got a putback basket to pull to with three points.

The Bears threw up an airball, but Kabela got a steal, and Cornwell made a three-point basket for a 36-30 score. Camanche made a three-point basket and drew a foul. They made the free throw for a four-point play. Cornwell made a jumper, the Camanche scored in the paint. Cornwell was fouled on a shot and made the second of two free throws. Camanche made a three-point shot to tie the score at 39-39. Kabela made a three-point basket, assist Thompson. Cornwell got a defensive rebound and made a baseline jumper for a 44-39 score. With 33 seconds left in the half, Camanche made a three-point basket. T. Lukavsky was fouled on a shot and drained both free throws with 3.8 seconds on the clock for a 46-42 West Branch halftime lead.

The second half continued to be a battle.

“They switched up their defense to a triangle and two at half,” Burger said. “Then we got around it eventually and got back even. Then we had some untimely turnovers and we kind of ran out of time to make a comeback.”

The possession arrow pointed to the Bears to begin the third quarter. West Branch missed a few baskets, and Camanche got the rebound. Thompson got a defensive rebound then made a basket, assist T. Lukavsky, for a 48-42 West Branch lead. The Indians scored and drew a foul. The free throw was missed, and Kabela got the rebound. The Bears stepped on the line and turned the ball over, and Camanche drove to the basket and scored for a 48-46 score with 6:35 left on the clock. Kabela drove to the hoop and drew a foul. He made both free throws for a 50-46 West Branch lead with 6:13 to go in the quarter. Camanche scored, Cornwell was fouled on a shot and made the second of two free throws. Camanche scored, pulling to within one point. Kabela scored in the paint, and the Bears were up 53-50. Camanche was fouled on a shot and made the first of two free throws. With 4:18 on the clock, Camanche trailed 53-51.

West Branch stepped on the line for a turnover again under heavy defensive pressure from the Indians. Camanche made a three-point basket to take a 54-53 lead. The Indians got a defensive board and made another three-pointer for a 57-53 score with 3:26 on the clock. The Bears took a time out with 3:08 to go. Kabela scored, assist Bridges. Camanche got a defensive rebound, then T. Lukavsky got a defensive board. Kabela scored, assist Bridges, and the score was tied at 57-57 with 1:47 to go in the third quarter. Camanche scored inside, the Schiele made a three-point shot, assist Bridges, for a 60-59 West Branch lead with a minute to go in the quarter. T. Lukavsky got a defensive rebound. With 40 seconds on the clock, Schiele made another three-point basket for a 63-57 score. West Branch was called for a charge, then Camanche scored in the paint. Camanche got a defensive rebound and drew a foul. With the completed three-point play, the Indians took a 64-63 lead into the fourth quarter. The Bears shot at the buzzer hit the rim but did not go in.

It was the Indians’ ball to start the fourth quarter. Cornwell got a defensive rebound and made a three-point basket to give West Branch a 66-64 lead, Camanche scored to tie the game. Kabela drove to the hoop to score, then the Indians got a putback basket for a 68-68 score. Camanche got a block then drew a foul on a three-point try. The Indians made two of three free throws. Kabela scored, assist T. Lukavsky, for a 70-70 tie with 5:15 to go. Camanche scored 11 unanswered points on a basket, a three-pointer, a steal and layup, and four of four free throws. The Bears were down 81-70 with just two minutes left in the game.

Thompson was fouled and made the second of two free throws for an 81-71 score with 1:52 on the clock. The Bears took a time out with 1:33 to go. The Bears fouled, and Camanche made the second of two free throws. Kabela drove to the basket, drew a foul, and made both free throws with 1:04 to go for an 82-73 score. The Bears fouled again, and Camanche made both free throws for an 84-73 score with 47.1 seconds to go. Kabela was fouled on a drive and made both free throws for an 84-75 score with 40.2 seconds left. The Bears fouled, and Camanche missed both free throws with 29.6 seconds on the clock. Kabela grabbed the rebound and drove to the basket to score for an 84-77 score. The Bears took a time out with 20.9 seconds to go. Camanche was fouled and made both free throws for an 86-77 score. Jack Dragovich got a defensive rebound, but the Bears turned the ball over. Trey Eagle was fouled with four seconds to go. He made the first of two free throws for an 86-78 score. Brady Lukavsky got the rebound and scored at the buzzer for an 86-80 final score.

“We had to go triangle and two and take away their two scorers because they were making shots,” Camanche Head Coach Josh Davis said. “They put on a show the first half. We had to make some changes. Then number 15 (Schiele) steps up and hits the threes. We couldn’t quite take the momentum.

“Ended up being some steals, some run-outs, and some fast break basketball in the fourth quarter. I thought they started to get tired, especially their starters. Cornwell and Kabela started getting tired, and we were able to extend it through some baskets at the rim and some free throws.”

The Bears finished with an 18-6 season record.

1 2 3 4 T

WB 18 28 17 17 80

Cam. 17 25 22 22 86

West Branch stats: Beau Cornwell 9 2-5 26 6 3-pointers, 10 rebounds, 3 assists; Brady Lukavsky 1 0-0 2, 1 rebound; Tanner Lukavsky 0 4-4 4, 5 rebounds, 3 assists, 2 steals, 1 block; Brett Schiele 2 0-0 6, 2 3-pointers; Cooper Kabela 11 7-8 32, 3 3-pointers, 10 rebounds, 2 assists, 1 steal, 7 blocks; Ben Thompson 4 1-3 9, 5 rebounds, 3 assists, 1 steal; Ted Bridges 4 rebounds, 3 assists; Trey Eagle 0 1-2 1, 1 steal; Jack Dragovich 1 rebound

Camanche stats: Dev Patel 2 5-7 10, 2 3-pointer, 5 rebounds, 6 assists, 1 steal; Tre Austin 0 1-2 1; Dakota Soenksen 6 5-8 19, 2 3-pointers, 5 rebounds, 1 assist, 3 steals, 1 block; Cameron Soenksen 5 5-5 20, 5 3-pointers, 5 rebounds, 2 blocks; Dylan Hundley 9 2-2 21, 1 3-pointer, 11 rebounds, 5 assists, 2 steals; David Gonzalez 5 0-1 10, 10 rebounds; Calvin Ottens 2 1-2 5, 2 rebounds, 1 block

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