LISBON — It wasn’t working, so Matt Haddy decided to change strategies. Again.
The Lisbon boys’ basketball coach had a lot of athletes, so he went with an up-tempo, Grinnell College style free-for-all offensive philosophy halfway through last season. But with his Lions struggling part way through this season, Haddy decided fast and furious wasn’t working.
It was time to go back to a more deliberate style of ball.
“We just went through a stretch where we were not making shots,” Haddy explained. “When you’re not making shots, it’s difficult because (playing the Grinnell style) you are going to give up some points. So we changed into what we are now. It’s funny because I was just thinking about what our identity as a team is right now. I guess it’s just find a way to win.”
Which Lisbon has done a lot this winter.
It begins Class 1A district tournament play this week at 16-6, setting a school record for victories. The Lions tied with Northeast Goose Lake for the Big East Conference championship, their first and the school’s first league title of any kind since winning the old Wapsie Conference in 1974.
Lisbon is seeded second in District 10 and will host a second-round game against Springville or Central City on Thursday night. Those two are among a couple handfuls of 1A and 2A teams in the area who begin district play Monday night.
“We’ve just decided to try and play good defense and make people work for points,” said Haddy, who learned a lot about defense as an assistant coach for Steve Bergman at Iowa City West. “It wasn’t too tough of a readjustment for the kids. These seniors are the first group that has been with me all four years here, and a lot of the things we switched back to were things these kids have played before.”
Lisbon, of course, won the Class A state football championship, and the vast majority of its hoopsters were members of that team. That includes quarterback Ben Knake, who is sixth in 1A scoring at 20.6 points per game.
Knake has been Mr. Everything for this club, honored unanimously by Big East coaches as the league’s MVP for a second consecutive year. Haddy said Knake has narrowed his college choices down to Cornell, Loras and Wartburg, where he would like to try and play both basketball and football.
“He’s our guy,” Haddy said. “He is the best player I’ve ever coached, and that includes one year (as an assistant) at Cornell.”
Lisbon’s district path certainly seems negotiable, as it includes five other Big East teams. The desire is there for this team to extend this best-ever season awhile longer.
Here’s a list of all Class 1A and 2A district openers around the area tonight. A full state list can be found here:
CLASS 1A DISTRICTS FIRST ROUND
(All games begin at 7)
Bettendorf Rivermont Collegiate (2-5) at Midland (6-15)
Central City (1-19) at Springville (6-15)
East Buchanan (3-19) at West Central (4-17)
Elkader Central (0-21) at Starmont (10-11)
English Valleys (1-20) at Highland (5-16)
Meskwaki Settlement School (5-16) at North Mahaska (10-11)
Tri-County (2-19) at Iowa Valley (5-16)
Valley Community (3-18) at Edgewood-Colesburg (10-12)
CLASS 2A DISTRICTS FIRST ROUND
(All games begin at 7)
Bellevue (5-16) at Maquoketa Valley (12-9)
Camanche (12-10) at Cascade (17-4)
Columbus Junction (2-19) at Mid-Prairie (4-18)
Durant (9-12) at Wilton (11-10)
Jesup (4-17) at Wapsie Valley (8-14)
Louisa-Muscatine (7-14) at West Liberty (10-11)
South Winneshiek (10-10) at North Fayette (13-8)
Tipton (0-22) at North Cedar (17-4)
Waterloo Columbus (4-17) at Nashua-Plainfield (12-9)