DENISON, Iowa — With Class 2-A No. 6 IKM-Manning sitting in a 2-3 zone, Carroll Kuemper junior Alex Drees and his fellow guards were given some open looks from 3-point range.
Drees came up with one of his best games of the season, hitting four treys and scoring 12 points to lead the Knights to a 68-53 Class 2-A, District 16 final victory over Tuesday.
“They were almost daring us to shoot, so there wasn’t a ton of pressure on us,” Drees said. “Staying after practice and getting up extra shots this week also helped.”
Knights coach Tyler Edwards said the Wolves’ defensive gameplan was similar to what OA-BCIG did to his team in the district semifinal and his team knocked down some big perimeter shots to counteract it.
“People are going to defend us like that with our size,” said Edwards, whose team improves to 15-8. “We gave up that run after half, but Carter (Ludwig) and Alex (Drees) hit those two right after half and it ignited us.”
Drees hit three of his 3-pointers in the first half, but his final one was part of a big 8-0 run coming out of halftime to stretch the Knight lead to nine. That run came after IKM-Manning scored 10 of 11 points to end the first half at 21-20. Carroll Kuemper had scored 10 straight to start the second quarter.
“The first three minutes of the third quarter we talked about starting strong, but they were able to open up a bigger lead,” Wolves coach Keith Wagner said. “We wanted them to shoot 3s and they made shots.”
Trailing by 14 midway through the fourth quarter, Sam Wegner scored eight straight points to get IKM-Manning (21-2) within 51-45. Cole Neary, who scored 17 points, responded with two buckets out of timeouts to put the game away.
“Once we hit some 3s, it opened that zone up for us to score some in the middle,” Neary said.
Wegner scored a game-high 23 points to lead IKM-Manning and Riley Bach and Sam Brincks added 11 for Carroll Kuemper.
But the biggest stat of the game may have been free-throw shooting. IKM-Manning shot just 6 of 17 from the line, while Carroll Kuemper knocked down 24 of 30 with the majority of those icing the game in the fourth quarter.
Wagner was playing with his leading scorer, TJ Sterk, hampered by an ankle injury. Sterk averages 17 points per game but was shut out in the first half and finished the game with 11 points.
“But that’s an excuse and we just didn’t execute like we needed to,” Wagner said. “They hit their free throws and we did not shoot well from the line.”
The Knights will face Red Oak in Harlan Saturday for a trip to the state tournament. The Tigers took down St. Albert 58-56 in their district final and defeated Carroll Kuemper 63-50 in Red Oak last month.
“Hats off to the Hawkeye-10 Conference for having two teams in that substate final,” Edwards said. “We lost in that game to Clarinda last year, so our kids have that bitter taste in their mouths and want to go there and play a lot better this year.”
Carroll Kuemper (15-8).........10 11 21 26—68
IKM-Manning (21-2)..................10 10 12 21—53
CK: Carter Ludwig 9, Alex Drees 12, Cole Neary 17, Riley Bach 11, Sam Brincks 11, Chris Halbur 8.
IKMM: Kyle Wagner 8, TJ Sterk 11, Joey Herbers 1, Scott Opperman 8, Sam Wegner 23, Cody Kahl 2.