ANAMOSA - Back and forth they went trading leads throughout their extremely tight River Valley Conference contest Tuesday, Feb. 4.
The Anamosa and North Cedar boys basketball teams made plays, made shots and put on a show for their respective fans through 32 intense and entertaining minutes, but in the end it was the Raiders who would final say.
“I am so happy for our kids,” said Anamosa boys basketball coach Kevin Barnes, as his team hit the huge shots inside the game’s final minute to pull out a huge 66-60 triumph over the Knights, snapping a six-game losing streak.
“This group just needed this. You can talk and preach about it all you want as a coach, but it just doesn’t have the same meaning until you have lived it. They lived it in this game. They just kept making plays, all the way until the end of the game. I am just so proud of the way they played.”
Locked in a 52-52 tie with just under four minutes to play, Anamosa junior Trae Klatt grabbed an offensive rebound and quickly put the ball back up and through the hoop to give the hosts a two-point lead. It was the first of several clutch plays made by the Raiders in crunch time.
“That was a big play by Trae because we had gone over four minutes without a basket,” Barnes said. “North Cedar scored on their next possession to tie it up and then Trae got another lay-up and we were up by two again.”
The Knights came right back and finished an old-school three-point play to take a one-point lead with under two-minutes remaining.
But back came Anamosa (3-15, 3-14) once again.
“Sam (Wilt) missed a shot but the was the first one to go and get the rebound and put it back in to put us up by one with about a minute and a half left,” Barnes said. “A North Cedar kid got fouled and made 1-of-2 free throws and we were tied again.”
But not for long.
On the next Raider possession, Klatt found Jake Jess open in the corner and the red-hot shooting sophomore knocked down the trey (his sixth of the night) to give the hosts a three-point lead.
North Cedar went to the free throw line on their ensuing possession and hit 1-of-2 attempts before Caleb Otting connected on another huge 3-point to give the hosts some separation going up by five.
“On North Cedar’s ensuing possession Seth (Schoon) picked up a charge and then Trae knocked down two free throws and we had the game,” Barnes said. “We only rotated six and all six of those guys contributed. Wags (Nick Wagner) was good in the middle of the defense. He made it difficult for North Cedar inside. Seth and Jake were also really good on the defensive end, especially in the second half.
“Jake also had himself some kind of shooting night. Caleb was instrumental in our defensive adjustments the second half and he did a great job, and I was so happy to see him knock down that big three late. Her has really worked hard on his shooting. Sam was Sam, another double-double and just doing so many good things for this team. Trae was as good as I have ever seen him, and he just keeps getting better. He rebounded, assisted and had some big baskets.”
The game started off well for the Raiders racing to a 13-7 first quarter lead before settling in with a 17-14 edge at the horn. The second quarter saw the two teams trade leads before the Knights went into the break with a 32-31 advantage before Anamosa made another big run in the third.
The Raiders used a 21-12 spurt to take a 52-44 lead before North Cedar answered with a 10-2 rally to knot the score setting up the thrilling finish.
Jess was sensational scoring a career-high 22 points connecting on 6-of-11 from beyond the 3-point arc while also adding three assists. Wilt tallied 21 points, 11 rebounds and three assists while Klatt came through with 14 points and 16 huge rebounds.
Anamosa shot a blistering 52-percent from the field and overall splashed through an amazing 11 3-point baskets.
The Raiders looked to start a winning streak hitting the road at Mid-Prairie Thursday, Feb. 6, but instead saw a tight game to the half slip away over the final two quarters in what ended as a 76-54 defeat.
“I felt like we fought really hard for most of the first three quarters, then we just lost that fight a little bit at the end of the third and it carried over into the fourth,” Barnes said. “You also have to give Mid-Prairie credit, they made shots in the fourth quarter and we did not.”
The first two frames saw both teams push the pace with the Raiders leading 18-16 after the first horn before the Golden Hawks rallied to take a 34-30 halftime lead.
After Jess drilled one of his four total treys early in the third quarter, Anamosa trailed just 34-33, but it would be as close as they’d get the rest of the night.
Mid-Prairie went on a 23-11 run from that point to the third quarter horn, and took a commanding 57-44 advantage into the final frame.
“This was a game where our guys being injured really came into play,” Barnes said. “Foul trouble and we just don’t have the depth right now to battle through that. It is challenging and frustrating, but we just have to continue to fight and get better.”
Jess had another big night leading the visitors scoring a game-high 17 points while Otting added 13 more connecting three times from beyond the 3-point arc.
The tough road tests continued 24 hours later, as Anamosa took another long road trip, this time to class 2A fifth-ranked Camanche Friday, Feb. 7.
“We hung around for awhile against a heck of a team,” said Barnes, as his team poured in an impressive 19 first quarter points and overall tallied 65 against the Indians in what ended as a 91-65 setback.
“Mid-way through the third we battled back from being down 17 (45-28) and we had it to eight (48-40) and had possession of the basketball. Unfortunately, we turned the ball over and they got a run out lay-up that ignited an 11-0 run for them. From there it was just too hard to come back against6 a team like that.”
The Raiders trailed 27-19 after one frame and 45-34 at the half before a 27-20 third quarter run by the Indians stretched their advantage to 72-54 with just one quarter to play.
Anamosa had a phenomenal shooting night connecting for an amazing 15 3-point baskets, led by four from Jess who tallied a team-high 20 points. Wilt and Wagner added three more treys each and finished with 11 and nine points, respectively. Klatt also scored nine for the visitors while Otting added eight more.