You walk near the Western Dubuque High School gym and hear a basketball bouncing and swishing through a net more times than not. There’s little doubt who is producing these noises.
It’s just what senior guard T.J. Lake always does, what he’s all about.
“I don’t think in my 43 years of coaching have I had anybody put in more time,” said Western Dubuque Coach Dennis Geraghty.
Constantly working on his game is something the skinny 5-foot-11 guard has had to do to get to the level he has. That level is all-state in Class 3A last season and a likely all-stater in 4A this season, considering Western Dubuque has jumped a class.
Lake is averaging 20 points for the 9-0 Bobcats, who are ranked fourth. He’s on his way next season to Division II Minnesota State.
“Just hard work and dedication to basketball,” Lake said. “It’s for a love of the game. It’s been just getting in the gym every day and getting up shots.”
Geraghty said he’s gotten calls from the director of the beautiful new Peosta Community Centre kidding him about installing a cot so Lake can sleep there at night. It would extradite the process since he spends so much time at the facility during the offseason.
“I got to him as a seventh grader and said ‘T.J., your dad tells me you want to play college basketball,” Geraghty said. “You are pretty small, people are going to tell you that you can’t. You’re just going to have to outwork everybody. And he has.”
Lake can handle the ball and is quick coming off screens and popping jumpers. Not quite half of his shots have come from 3-point land.
Western Dubuque has three guys in its starting lineup (Lake, Brendan McCoy and sophomore Spencer Haldeman) with similar games, which makes it tough to play. WD lost in double-overtime to Mount Pleasant in last season’s 3A championship game, but the hope is there is a return trip to Des Moines in the near future.
Geraghty and Lake were asked how rough it is to think about last season. Lake missed two free throws very late in the first overtime that would have gone a long way toward putting away Mount Pleasant.
MP came down and hit a trey that tied the game and send it to a second OT. Geraghty divulged last week that his team actually was supposed to foul instead of allowing Mount Pleasant to take a shot.
“But that’s neither here nor there,” the coach said.
“I find myself at the rec center (sometimes), at the line just replaying that whole thing,” Lake said. “I always hit it at the rec center … I’ve watched the replay of the game a couple of times. Definitely heart-breaking, but it is what it is.”
District/substate pods half out
– The Iowa High School Athletic Association released district and substate groupings for Class 1A and 2A schools this week and are scheduled to release 3A-4A pods Monday.
There has been a lot of discussion how 4A substates will shake out on this side of the state. The idea behind waiting to release district and substate pods instead of releasing them preseason was to get the best possible teams to the state tournament, keeping in mind geography always plays an important role.
It’ll be interesting to see, for instance, if the IHSAA puts top-five ranked neighbors Western Dubuque and Dubuque Senior in the same substate or if they will be kept apart. Quad Cities rivals Bettendorf and North Scott entered the week ranked second and third in 4A.
“If the state does what it said it was going to do by coming out late like this …” Geraghty said last Saturday, not completing his thought. “I tell you what, if we take care of business (next) week, we give them a lot to think about.”
Western Dubuque has three road games next week against Maquoketa, Dyersville Beckman and 4A Dubuque Hempstead.
Here are the Class 1A and 2A district and substate pods. Corresponding districts (1-2, 3-4, etc.) play each other in substate final.
District 1 - Central Lyon, Clay Central-Everly, George-Little Rock, Graettinger-Terril/Ruthven-Ayrshire, Harris-Lake Park, Rock Valley, Sibley-Ocheyedan, Trinity Christian, West Lyon. District 2 - Akron-Westfield, Boyden-Hull, LeMars Gehlen, Hinton, Kingsley-Pierson, Marcus-Meriden-Cleghorn, Remsen-Union, Granville Spalding, Remsen St. Mary’s, West Sioux.
District 3 - Belmond-Klemme, Algona Garrigan, Corwith-Wesley-Luverne, Lake Mills, Mason City Newman, North Iowa, Northwood-Kensett, Riceville, Rockford, West Hancock. District 4 - Clarksville, Janesville, Lansing Kee, North Butler, Postville, Tripoli, Turkey Valley, Valley Community, Wapsie Valley, West Central.
District 5 – Central City, Elkader Central, Don Bosco, Dunkerton, East Buchanan, Edgewood-Colesburg, Jesup, North Linn, Starmont, Waterloo Christian. District 6 – Calamus-Wheatland, Cedar Valley Christian, Highland, Lisbon, Lone Tree, Bellevue Marquette, Midland, Preston, Clinton Prince of Peace, Springville.
District 7 - Belle Plaine, BGM, English Valleys, HLV, Iowa Mennonite, Iowa Valley, Lynnville-Sully, Meskwawki Settlement School, Montezuma, Tri-County. District 8 - Ackley-Geneva/Wellsburg-Steamboat Rock, BCLUW, CAL Latimer, Colo-NESCO, Gladbrook-Reinbeck, Garwin GMG, Grundy Center, North Tama, Northeast Hamilton, Cedar Falls Valley Lutheran.
District 9 - Danville, Harmony, Fort Madison Holy Trinity, Keota, Fairfield Maharishi, New London, Pekin, Van Buren, WACO, Winfield-Mount Union. District 10 - Melcher-Dallas, Moravia, Moulton-Udell, North Mahaska, Pleasantville, Seymour, Sigourney, Southeast Warren, Twin Cedars, Corydon Wayne.
District 11 - Adair-Casey, Ankeny Christian, Coon Rapids-Bayard, Earlham, Des Moines Grandview Park Baptist, Guthrie Center, Iowa Christian, Madrid, Woodward-Granger, Woodward Academy. District 12 - Corning, Diagonal, East Union, Lamoni, Lenox, Martensdale-St. Mary’s, Mormon Trail, Mount Ayr, Murray, Orient-Macksburg.
District 13 - Bedford, East Mills, Essex, Fremont-Mills, Heartland Christian, Nishnabotna, Sidney, South Page, Stanton, Villisca. District 14 - Avo-Ha/Shelby-Tennant, Audubon, Cumberland-Anita-Massena, Exira/Elk Horn-Kimballton, Griswold, Logan-Magnolia, Oakland Riverside, Underwood, West Harrison, Woodbine.
District 15 - Ar-We-Va, Boyer Valley, Charter Oak-Ute, Lawton-Bronson, River Valley, Siouxland Community Christian, West Monona, Sloan Westwood, Whiting, Woodbury Central. District 16 - Alta-Aurelia, Glidden-Ralston, Laurens-Marathon, Newell-Fonda, Paton-Churdan, Pocahontas, Prairie Valley, Southeast Webster, Storm Lake St. Mary’s, West Bend-Mallard.
District 1 - Cherokee, Ridge View, Sioux Center, South O’Brien, Orange City Unity Christian, Western Christian. District 2 - Emmetsburg, Hartley-Melvin-Sanborn, North Union, Milford Okoboji, Sheldon, Sioux Central, Spirit Lake.
District 3 - East Sac County, Manson-Northwest Webster, Ogden, South Central Calhoun, South Hamilton, Fort Dodge St. Edmond. District 4 - Clarion-Goldfield, Eagle Grove, Forest City, Garner-Hayfield/Ventura, Hampton-Dumont, West Fork.
District 5 – Central Springs, Denver, Nashua-Plainfield, New Hampton, Osage, Saint Ansgar.District 6 – Aplington-Parkersburg, Dike-New Hartford, East Marshall, Hudson, South Hardin, West Marshall.
District 7 - Dyersville Beckman, Clayton Ridge, MFL/Mar-Mac, North Fayette, South Winneshiek, Sumner-Fredericksburg. District 8 - Alburnett, Cascade, Waterloo Columbus, Maquoketa Valley, Monticello, Mount Vernon.
District 9 - Bellevue, Camanche, Durant, North Cedar, Northeast Goose Lake, Tipton. District 10 - Louisa-Muscatine, Mid-Prairie, Iowa City Regina, West Branch, West Liberty, Wilton.
District 11 - Central Lee, Columbus Junction, Mediapolis, Burlington Notre Dame, Wapello, West Burlington. District 12 - Albia, Eldon Cardinal, Davis County, Eddyville-Blakesburg-Fremont, Prairie City-Monroe, Pella Christian.
District 13 - Collins-Maxwell-Baxter, Colfax-Mingo, Des Moines Christian, North Polk, Roland-Story, Van Meter. District 14 - Central Decatur, Osceola Clarke, Interstate 35, Nodaway Valley, Panorama, West Central Valley.
District 15 - Clarinda, Clarinda Academy, Red Oak, Shenandoah, Council Bluffs St. Albert. District 16 - IKM-Manning, Carroll Kuemper, Maple Valley/Anthon-Oto, Missouri Valley, Odebolt-Arthur/Battle Creek-Ida Grove, Tri-Center.CEDAR RAPIDS – It’s 6:30 a.m. and school is a good two hours from starting.