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STATE BASKETBALL: Worth the wait for Mount Pleasant

Panthers win first state title since 1918 in double-OT thriller

March 11, 2012
By TRAVIS HINES - T-R Sports Writer (thines@timesrepublican.com) , Times-Republican

DES MOINES - It took Mount Pleasant 94 years to return to a title game in boys' basketball.

Whatever happens over the next century or so, Panthers faithful will have plenty to talk about when it comes to championship performances.

Mount Pleasant needed late heroics after an early double-digit lead vanished to vanquish Western Dubuque, 66-62, in double-overtime of the championship contest of the Class 3A Iowa High School Boys State Basketball Tournament on Saturday.

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The Panthers (26-1) led by as many as 13 in the first half but found themselves down three with under 11 seconds to play in overtime before Dalton Conrad delivered a season-saving 3-pointer with 4 seconds to spare to extend the game for a second time.

Mount Pleasant then scored five of the first six points of overtime to slowly pull away for the program's first state championship since 1918.

TJ Lake hit a pair of free throws to put the Bobcats up 3 with 26 seconds remaining in overtime, but his return trip to the line 15 seconds later resulted in two misses, keeping the score at 55-52.

Conrad dribbled the ball across half court to the top of the key and rose up, burying the game-tying triple with 4 seconds remaining to send the game to its second extra period.

"Coach told me to just go to the hole but if I don't have it then pull up and shoot. I saw the opening and I just put it down," said Conrad of his overtime trey.

"It felt perfect coming off the hands. I knew it was in when it came off my hands."

Conrad is a 30.4 percent 3-point shooter on the season.

"I was just praying it would go in. It was an amazing shot," said his teammate, Jordan Ashton, who scored 20 points and had three steals on the game.

Mount Pleasant took a 10-point lead into the final 8 minutes, but turnovers combined with foul trouble and an injury to Ashton to let the Bobcats back into the game.

Ashton had to spend a long stretch on the bench with four fouls and spent the game's final 2 minutes lying on the ground behind it with cramps.

Western Dubuque outscored the Panthers 15-5 in the fourth quarter and knotted the game at 49 on Cameron James' free throws with 1:35 remaining.

The Bobcats held for the last shot on the ensuing possession, but only got up a desperation shot at the buzzer that missed its mark, sending the game into an extra 4 minutes.

The Panthers threatened to break the game wide open with a 15-2 run between the first and second quarters, but Western Dubuque responded with a 9-2 spurt to end the half and took just a six-point deficit into the locker room.

"They didn't really get too worked up about it. We tried to stay as calm as possible," said Mount Pleasant head coach Paul Rundquist.

Lake scored 20 points and was named to the all-tournament team. His two missed free throws late in OT ended a string of four straight makes from the line for the junior.

The Bobcats were making their first state title game appearance since earning the crown in 2000.

"It's just very tough to take. We had it right there," said Western Dubuque head coach Dennis Geraghty. "A couple of little things happen, we're state champs. But they didn't go our way."

 
 

 

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