The third-ranked Waukee boys’ basketball team showed on Tuesday why the Warriors will probably win the CIML Conference title.
The host Warriors overcame a 14-point deficit in the second quarter to beat No. 5 Ankeny Centennial, 70-56, for the second time this season. They improved to 11-1 in the league and 11-4 overall, while the Jaguars’ records dropped to 7-4 and 10-4.
“That was like a state tournament game,” said Centennial coach Bob Fontana. “Both teams played really well at times.”
Centennial made six 3-point goals while building a 27-13 lead in the first half. But Waukee then responded with a 24-11 run to end the half, closing the gap to 38-37.
“That was pretty crucial,” said Centennial forward Chase Schutty. “We gave up some turnovers and let them have some easy buckets, and we didn’t respond with anything. But I still feel like we played a really good game.”
The Jaguars took their final lead, 44-43, on a 3-pointer by Joey Oakie in the third quarter. But Waukee then answered with a 10-0 run, including an acrobatic 3-point play by Jai White that put the Warriors ahead for good with 2 minutes 13 seconds left in the period.
White, a sophomore guard, scored seven of his 11 points in the second half.
“The kid that hurt us was the sub off the bench,” Fontana said of White. “That was a killer.”
Jaden Rogers scored on an alley-oop off an inbounds play with 1 minute to go–and just 1 second left on the shot clock. Owen Schipper followed with a 3-pointer, then Mason Costello made the first of two free throws after being fouled under Centennial’s basket with 1.8 seconds remaining.
The Jaguars finally halted Waukee’s run when Isaac Runchey banked in a 3-pointer from midcourt at the buzzer.
“I thought it was going to hit either the top of the shot clock, or I thought it was in,” Runchey said. “But once it left my hand, it felt pretty good. It was nice to make a big shot and cut (the lead) to six (points).”
Centennial eventually pulled within 59-56 on a basket by Luke Winkel with about 3 minutes left, but the Jaguars never scored again. White made two free throws with 2:30 to go, then Costello scored eight points down the stretch to seal the victory–capped off by a dunk in the final seconds.
“We only had eight turnovers, but we had three of them in the last few minutes,” Fontana said. “And they scored on two of those three possessions.”
Costello finished with 24 points, 15 rebounds, four assists, two steals and a block. Evan Jacobson added 12 points and nine rebounds as Waukee won the battle of the boards, 42-29.
“They’re solid,” Fontana said of the Warriors, who can clinch at least a tie for the conference title by winning two of their last four games. “But I thought Schutty did a helluva job on Jacobson. He kept him off the glass.”
Schutty had 10 points, 12 rebounds and two steals for Centennial. Winkel finished with 19 points, seven boards and five assists, Connor Welsch chipped in 11 points, and Oakie added eight.
All four of those players had a pair of 3-pointers.
“We played them pretty well,” Schutty said. “We led at the half. We were playing well–we just couldn’t make the shots we usually make.”
The Jaguars shot just 35.7 percent from the field (20-of-56). They were an identical 10-of-28 from both inside and behind the arc.
“We had some great looks offensively at the rim and couldn’t finish,” Fontana said. “We had some open 3s and didn’t knock them down.”
If the two teams meet again, it would likely come at the Class 4A state tournament.
“We can’t wait for that,” Schutty said.
The Jaguars will host a non-conference game against Cedar Rapids Prairie (4-7) on Saturday.
“We’ve just got to learn from this and move on,” Fontana said.