It wasn’t pretty early, but Lake Mills preserves a late lead for a district championship win over GTRA.
GTRA shocked Bulldog fans who haven’t seen Lake Mills play many close games this season in the first quarter. The Titans played good defense and made tough shots look easy, helping them to a 16 to 14 lead after the first eight minutes of basketball.
Lake Mills coach Kyle Menke
GTRA continues to stun the Bulldogs in the second quarter, extending that lead. However, the Lake Mills machine that has destroyed North Iowa basketball for the past three seasons came alive late in the second quarter to head into halftime with a 28-25 lead. Senior Bennett Berger made a runner as time expired in the half and was fouled, he missed the and-one, but Lake Mills had the momentum.
It seemed that Lake Mills was one play away from bursting the game open in the second half, but GTRA wouldn’t go away. Even with under two minutes to go, it felt – for a moment – that the game was finally over, but the Titans didn’t stop. Lake Mills was up 11 points with less than a minute when GTRA got an and-one three-point play, a missed Lake Mills free throw, a three-pointer, a Lake Mills travel, and an open two. With all that, GTRA cut the Bulldogs’ lead from 11 to three with five seconds left in the game. Though they got it close, it was a little too late for the Titans, Lake Mills’ senior Bennett Berger iced the game with two free throws, and Lake Mills escaped 54-49.
The Bulldogs win sends them to their third substate final in a row, where they have won the past two. They will play the Raiders of Dunkerton, who have put together a 22-3 overall record this season.
Dunkerton is led by star guard Preston Gillespie, who has scored 577 points this year, including dropping 36 on Newman Catholic in their district title win over the Knights last night 82-75. The Raiders were the champions of the Iowa Star Conference with a perfect 12-0 record. Dunkerton has made four appearances at state since 1932, most recently in 2014 when they finished as the runner-up to West Lyon. They won the Class 1A title in 2004 and won the championship with no classes in 1933.
Saturday’s substate final in Clear Lake will be live on KIOW and video streamed live at KIOW.com with Zach and Chris Throne starting at 6:40 PM.