CEDAR RAPIDS — It had to absorb the barbs of “Overrated!” and “This is 4A!” from the opposing team’s student section. As if absorbing the way its season ended wasn’t bad enough.
This wasn’t the Western Dubuque boys’ basketball team you saw all winter, a disappearance at exactly the wrong time.
“A lot of people out there tonight didn’t see the real Bobcats,” WD Coach Dennis Geraghty said after Cedar Falls dismantled his unbeaten, third-ranked team, 57-40, in a Class 4A substate final Wednesday night at Cedar Rapids Kennedy. “That’s what’s disappointing about it. I feel for the kids. They just felt like they had to prove something. Tonight, we didn’t. Sometimes the other team has something to do with that. Cedar Falls played very well.”
You could probably add a couple more verys in there. Cedar Falls (19-4) played great defense, shot 62 percent from the field and got a career-high 28 points from Kalehl Brown.
“You can always say you can do things better,” said Western Dubuque’s Brendan McCoy. “But I’m sure they’re very happy with the way they played. I thought they had a good game plan, and they came out and executed it. They played well.”
Western Dubuque (22-1) finished Class 3A state runner-up last season, losing the championship game in double-overtime, but climbed to 4A this season and had run the table up to Wednesday night, playing in the predominantly 3A Wamac Conference. The one thing these Bobcats didn’t have was size, and Cedar Falls exploited that advantage to its fullest.
The Tigers forced a half-court game and bothered WD defensively with their length, size that included 6-foot-9 Zach Harvey, 6-6 Ike Boettger and 6-5 twins Kalehl and Kalund Brown. The Browns blanketed leading scorer T.J. Lake and held him to 14 points (five under his average) on 6-for-18 shooting.
The Bobcats never got anything going consistently after the first quarter, held to five points in the second and four in the third. That allowed CF to incrementally build its lead.
Kalehl Brown hit 3-point shots at the end of the first and second quarters to give his team momentum. He came into the game 1-for-20 from distance.
“It really wasn’t about me,” he said. “It was about this team. We played a helluva game.”
He was right about that.
“We’ve practiced hard the last three or four days preparing for this,” said CF Coach Tom Bardal, whose team is a likely fifth seed next week at the state tournament in Des Moines. “This is probably the one time I really felt our kids just did an outstanding job on both sides, offense and defense, of sticking to the game plan. Maybe the last couple minutes we got afraid, looking at the scoreboard and not moving as much. But other than that, it was pretty much a perfect game.”
Western Dubuque shot just 30 percent from the field and was 3 of 20 from distance. The final score actually is in some dispute, with the official book having Cedar Falls with 57 points, though multiple media members and Western Dubuque’s scorebook keeper had it with 56.
Not that it’s a big deal considering the spread.
“We did not want to let that team get a six or eight-point lead because they are so patient,” Geraghty said. “I just felt we had to play ahead. They were clearly the better team tonight.”
Here is the game boxscore:
AT C.R. KENNEDY
WESTERN DUBUQUE (40): Nick Webber 4-12 0-0 8, Tyler McGovern 1-5 0-1 2, Brendan McCoy 2-12 0-0 6, T.J. Lake 6-18 2-2 14, Spencer Haldeman 3-8 1-2 8, Tyler Samson 1-1 0-0 2, Dylan Kramer 0-0 0-0 0, Nolan Baumhover 0-0 0-0 0, Riley Pfeiler 0-0 0-0 0, Darius Clark 0-0 0-0 0, Curtis Burds 0-0 0-0 0, Sean Buerger 0-0 0-0 0, Logan Northouse 0-0 0-0 0. Totals 17-56 3-5 40.
CEDAR FALLS (57): Ike Boettger 1-4 6-8 8, Zach Harvey 2-3 2-5 6, Keeon Johnson 3-6 6-8 14, Kalehl Brown 10-12 6-7 28, Kalund Brown 0-1 0-1 0, Brandon Bardal 0-0 0-0 0, Jared Deines 0-0 0-0 0, Lewis Mickey 0-0 0-0 0, Alec Braun 0-0 0-0 0, Jackson Nichols 0-0 0-0 0, Andrew Robbins 0-0 0-0 0. Totals 16-26 20-30 57.
Halftime - Cedar Falls 22, Western Dubuque 18. 3-point goals - Western Dubuque 3-20 (Webber 0-4, McCoy 2-7, Lake 0-5, Haldeman 1-4), Cedar Falls 4-9 (Johnson 2-5, Kalehl Brown 2-3, Kalund Brown 0-1). Rebounds – Western Dubuque 20 (Webber 4), Cedar Falls 33 (Boettger 11). Total fouls - Western Dubuque 21, Cedar Falls 10. Fouled out - Haldeman, Samson. Turnovers – Western Dubuque 3, Cedar Falls 16.