Creston sent shockwaves through the Hawkeye 10 Conference here Tuesday with what head coach Billy Hiatt said might be the biggest win of his coaching stint at Creston.
The Panthers knocked off Class 2A sixth-ranked and Hawkeye 10 leader Carroll Kuemper Catholic, 69-62.
The win improves the Panthers to 8-7 for the season and 5-3 in the Hawkeye 10 Conference. Kuemper Catholic drops to 11-3 overall and 7-1 in the Hawkeye 10.
“It’d be up there. Probably one of the top two or three. Maybe the top one,” Hiatt said about the win. “Kuemper is really good this year. Coach is doing a great job with them. We’ve kind of been up and down this year, so this one means a lot to hopefully get us going again.”
The turning point in the game came in the third quarter — a quarter that has plagued the Panthers throughout the year.
Creston entered the third down four and quickly tied it up at 31-31, but Kuemper took a 40-33 lead on an Alex Gunnerson 3-pointer midway through the quarter.
The Panthers responded with a 7-0 run, capped off by a Brandon Phipps drive to the basket with 2:44 left in the quarter.
After a timeout, Kuemper took the lead again at 44-41. It would be the last lead of the game for the Knights, as Creston finished the quarter on another 7-0 run thanks to a 3-pointer by Cole Crawford, a bucket by Jay Wolfe and then Wolfe knocking down two technical free throws.
That gave Creston a 48-44 lead at the end of the third quarter.
“We’ve been having rough third quarters throughout the year, so we’ve been focusing on working hard that third quarter,” said Wolfe, who led all scorers with 25 points. “We had a good third quarter, and I’m proud of our guys.”
Hiatt said once he found the right combination of players to have on the floor, his team started to pick things up in the third quarter.
“Give Kuemper credit, they were about to put us down. They were going for the knockout punch,” Hiatt said. “We finally got the right combination in, hit a couple of shots and kind of started pulling back out and went with it.”
The Panthers got a handful of big plays from a number of players down the stretch in the fourth quarter.
With the score 50-46, Cole Crawford missed a 3-pointer, but McClain Haines flew in through the lane, grabbed the offensive rebound and put the ball back up and in while still in the air to give Creston a six point lead.
Wolfe then got back-to-back baskets to put Creston up 56-48.
Kuemper cut the lead to 56-51 and looked to have Wolfe trapped in the backcourt with its press, but Wolfe fired the ball into the front court to a wide open Trey Benson who got a layup to make the score 58-51.
Creston’s lead stretched to as much as 11 at 63-52 when Phipps found Benson for another layup.
Kuemper cut it to 63-59 on a Sam Brincks post up, and then had a chance to draw closer with less than :30 left.
Benson had what appeared to be a clean block on Brincks, but was called for a foul and then whistled for a technical. That gave Kuemper four free throws and the ball.
But, the Knights went just 2-for-4 at the line and misfired on a 3-pointer, and Brandon Phipps knocked down two free throws with :04 left to put the game away.
“They’re a big team, they’re physical,” Hiatt said. “We had to have other guys step up. The pressure they were giving, we got them spread out and that’s where we got some easy buckets with Benson. I’m real happy with everybody. They came in and kind of grew up. They had to.”
Three Panthers finished in double figures. In addition to Wolfe’s 25 points, Phipps and Crawford scored 10 apiece. Alex Nielsen and Benson each added eight.
“We’re just focusing on getting better every single day,” Wolfe said. “We’ve had a rocky year, but we continue to get better and hopefully we can peak at the right time. We realized what we can do tonight. We can compete with anybody.”
Creston returns to action Friday at home against Shenandoah, now 10-6 overall and 4-3 in the Hawkeye 10 Conference.
KUEMPER (62) — Cole Neary 8 6-10 23, Alex Gunnerson 6 2-6 16, Sam Brincks 5 3-4 13, Alex Drees 1 2-2 4, Chase Rupiper 1 0-0 2, Ben Hicks 1 0-1 2, Josh Irlbeck 1 0-0 2. Totals — 23 13-23 62. 3-point goals — 3 (Gunnerson 2, Neary 1). Team fouls — 20. Fouled out — none.
CRESTON (69) — Jay Wolfe 6 11-14 25, Brandon Phipps 3 2-2 10, Cole Crawford 4 0-0 10, Alex Nielsen 1 6-8 8, Trey Benson 4 0-0 8, Cole Thompson 1 3-4 5, McClain Haines 1 1-2 3. Totals — 20 23-30 69. 3-point goals — 6 (Phipps 2, Crawford 2, Wolfe 2). Rebounds — Wolfe 9, Benson 3. Assists — Thompson 4, Phipps 2, Wolfe 2. Steals — Thompson 4. Team fouls — 17. Fouled out — none.
Kuemper — 11 31 44 62
Creston — 11 27 48 69
The Creston JV team fell to 7-5 for the season on Tuesday with a 59-44 loss to Kuemper Catholic.
Cooper McDermott led the way for the Panthers with 14 points, while McClain Haines added 11. Christian Groumoutis scored nine.
“It was a tough loss,” Creston JV coach Michael West said. “They’re a lot bigger than us. The guys didn’t feel like they were in it. We came out pretty flat. For the most part, we pushed them pretty hard. We gave them a good fight, but in the end, we came up short.”
Creston (44) — Cooper McDermott 14, McClain Haines 11, Christian Groumoutis 9, Sam Hartsock 3, Brandon Jones 3, Nick Walsh 2.
Kuemper Catholic (59)
The Panther JV team picked up a 58-38 win over Winterset on Saturday.
Haines led the way with 15 points, while Groumoutis scored 13 and McDermott added 10.
“It was a great team win,” West said. “Everyone got in the game and played well. Nice to see the guys having fun.”
Creston (58) — McClain Haines 15, Christian Groumoutis 13, Cooper McDermott 10, Jake Miller 7, Brandon Jones 6, Sam Hartsock 3, Chris Foster 2, Nick Walsh 2.
The Creston freshmen dropped to 4-8 for the season with a 61-45 loss to Kuemper Catholic on Tuesday.
Cody Crawford scored 17 points to lead the Panthers, while Deaven Reese and Kyle Somers each scored eight.
Creston (45) — Cody Crawford 17, Deaven Reese 8, Kyle Somers 8, Seth Thompson 6, Brenden McDowell 3, Quinton Scadden 2, Gavin Woods 1.
The Panther freshmen picked up a 56-45 win over Winterset on Saturday, giving the Panthers a second straight win.
Crawford scored 21 points to lead the way. Somers and Reese each scored in double figures, scoring 12 and 10 points, respectively.
“Played four quarters of solid basketball,” Creston freshman coach Anthony Donahoo said. “Dominated the offensive glass with our bigs and got second and third chance opportunities. Was nice to get back-to-back wins, and we’ll continue to work to get better.”
Creston (56) — Cody Crawford 21, Kyle Somers 12, Deaven Reese 10, Brenden McDowell 6, Seth Thompson 5, Gavin Woods 2.