Above, the Lynnville-Sully Hawks walk back to the bench after a disappointing 56-53 loss to third-ranked Gladbrook-Reinbeck in the Class 1A Region 6 substate game.
It’s difficult to beat a team three times in one season, but the Hawks did just that when they met up with the North Mahaska Warhawks in the Class 1A District 11 finals game on Tuesday, Feb. 21, in Knoxville. After a slow start, the Hawks put the pedal down and didn’t let up on the momentum enroute to a 62-42 thrashing of the SICL rivals. The win clinched the title of District Champs for the Hawks. Just a few weeks ago, the Hawks needed and got a critical win over the Warhawks to continue their path to becoming SICL Conference Champions. Lynnville-Sully’s first win over the Warhawks in the 2022-23 season came in early December in overtime on the Warhawks’ court.
The dominating win on Feb. 21 propelled the 22-2 Hawks to the substate game, where they faced third-ranked Gladbrook-Reinbeck at Marshalltown High School’s Roundhouse. The stakes were high, and both teams put it all on the line. The contest was a hard-fought battle, and the Hawks always clawed their way back into contention when the Rebels found a surge. Unfortunately, the Hawks were unable to withstand the Rebels hitting paydirt at the charity stripe, shooting 28 free throws to the Hawks’ 12, a critical advantage when every point mattered.
The three-point loss, 56-53, ended the Hawks season one game short of the state tournament. L-S graduates two seniors from the talented 2022-23 squad, Conner Maston and Preston Rodibaugh.
North Mahaska Game
With the season on the line, the Lynnville-Sully Hawks put on their game faces once again for District 11 Final held at Knoxville High School on Tuesday, Feb. 21. Their opponent? North Mahaska, a team L-S swept during the regular season by a combined seven points. It’s tough to beat a team three times in one season, particularly a rival who shares the same desire to win and advance.
The Hawks had a rough start on Tuesday and were playing catch up for most of the first quarter, going 1-for-9 from the field with only one made basket and one made free throw reflected on the scoreboard. L-S was down, 9-3, at the two-minute mark of the first quarter before they settled down and found their rhythm on offense. The Hawks added a couple of buckets to make it a one-possession game going into the second quarter.
The second quarter is where the Hawks made some noise, putting up 24 points. Senior Conner Maston hit three straight three pointers to give the Hawks a lead they would never relinquish. After securing the lead, the momentum continued for the Hawks on the next defensive stop when junior Corder Noun Harder got a big steal as the Warhawks’ shot clock neared expiration. He was off to the races down the court for an uncontested lay-up, capping an 11-0 Hawks’ run and forcing a North Mahaska timeout.
L-S continued to own the second quarter, right until the buzzer. Noun Harder was at the charity stripe for a one-and-one opportunity with just seconds left to play after being fouled chasing after a loose ball. His shot bounced off the rim, and senior Preston Rodibaugh tipped the rebound out to Maston at half court. Maston launched the long ball, banking it in as the buzzer sounded for his fourth trey of the second quarter. The Hawks were up at the half, 31-24, which was a tale of two quarters – L-S went 3-for-13 in the first quarter and turned it around in the second hitting 10 of 14 from the field.
L-S controlled the remainder of the game – out-working, out-hustling, and out-playing the Warhawks. The Hawks scored six unanswered points in the third quarter before North Mahaska got a bucket four minutes in. L-S led by as many as 13 points in the third before the Warhawks found a small surge to bring the game within eight points going into the final frame.
Eight points would be as small as the deficit would get as the Hawks’ defense dominated, holding the Warhawks’ leading scorers to well below their season averages. L-S controlled the boards, played great help defense, and never let up on offense.
The previous two meetings between the two SICL rivals finished with L-S ahead three and four points, respectively. On Tuesday in the district finals, the Hawks blew the game open for a 20-point win, 62-42, to claim the title of District Champions and advance to the substate game.
Maston dropped 22 points to lead all scorers. He shot 71% from behind the arc and made all five of the Hawks’ three pointers. The senior grabbed seven rebounds, dished out two assists, stole the ball once, and was a defensive thorn in the side of one of the Warhawks’ leading scorers.
Junior Mitchell Miller shot 50% from the field for 15 points. He went 4-for-5 from the charity stripe in the fourth quarter alone. Miller grabbed seven boards and stole the ball twice.
Rodibaugh was the third Hawk to hit double digits with 10 points. He hauled in six rebounds, delivered two assists, and was credited with a steal. Six of Rodibaugh’s 10 points came in the critical fourth quarter where the Hawks put the game out of reach.
Van Dyke, a strong presence in the paint, shot 66% from the field for eight points. He played big on defense, grabbing nine defensive rebounds, and was critical on help defense when needed. Van Dyke was credited with three assists and one steal.
Noun Harder was again the team’s assist leader, finding his teammates and feeding the hot hands for a game-high eight assists. He chipped in four points, grabbed two boards, stole the ball twice, and was credited with the team’s only blocked shot. Noun Harder was also enlisted with the job of defending a top Warhawk scorer, a mission he accomplished.
Junior Keegan DeWitt and freshman Dawson James scored two and one points, respectively, from the charity stripe. DeWitt played scrappy and added a steal to his stats. James used his strength in the paint to cause havoc and was credited with three rebounds and one assist. Sophomore Hendrick Lowry got in the stat book with a steal in the final seconds.
The District 11 Finals win advanced the Hawks to Class 1A’s Region 6 substate game against third-ranked and top-seeded Gladbrook-Reinbeck on Saturday, Feb. 25, at Marshalltown High School. Both teams entered the game with a 22-2 record, and both teams were fighting to extend their season with a state appearance.
Van Dyke controlled the opening tip, something he has done every game this season. The Hawks failed to score on the first drive and quickly went on defense. The two teams battled it out, and although L-S trailed most of the first and second quarters, it was a one-possession game for most of the first half. L-S was down by four at halftime.
The Rebels hit two quick treys and a bucket coming out of halftime before the Hawks responded with a bucket.
L-S was down by double digits midway through the third quarter, but never gave up. The Hawks clawed their way back to a one-possession ball game to start the fourth quarter, down 38-35. The Rebels had the upper hand, however, registering a nine-point lead midway through the fourth, in part thanks to getting to the charity stripe for 15 free throws in the final eight minutes. The Hawks fought hard and hit a bucket at the buzzer to make it a three-point ball game, 56-53, but unfortunately it wasn’t enough. The Hawks’ successful season came to a close just three points short.
“The guys kept battling back all night long. We struggled to get the big stop and rebound when we needed it,” said coach Harthoorn.
L-S was 21-for-52 from the field compared to the Rebels who hit 15 of 42 shots. The Hawks out-rebounded Gladbrook-Reinbeck, 34-29, and got nine points off the bench compared to the Rebels’ two. Unfortunately for the Hawks, the Rebels’ opportunities at the free-throw line proved difficult to overcome. The Rebels shot 28 free throws – more than twice the 12 shots the Hawks got from the charity stripe.
Rodibaugh had the hot hand for the Hawks with 15 team-high points, including treys near the end of the game to keep it within reach. He grabbed a team-high seven rebounds and collected two assists. Noun Harder shed his defender to a double team and used it to his advantage to drive to the hoop for 14 points, including a critical “and one” that closed the gap in the final minutes. Noun Harder was credited with four rebounds, two assists, and one steal. James came off the bench to score seven points and grab six boards. He hit the final bucket for the Hawks this season at the buzzer.
Despite being double-teamed and hung on all night in the post, Van Dyke put up six points, grabbed five rebounds, and blocked two shots. Miller also chipped in six points. Maston, who G-R’s defense face guarded and denied the ball all game, added three points and five rebounds. DeWitt got a critical steal in the first half and drove to the hoop for two points to give L-S momentum at a critical point in the first half.
The Hawks finish their memorable season with a 22-3 record and the titles of SICL Conference and District Champions. Two seniors who have played varsity all four years and left their mark on the program wore the Hawk basketball uniform for the last time Saturday night – Maston and Rodibaugh. Both players made significant contributions statistically and impacted the team through their leadership on the court, in practice, in the weight room, and in the classroom.
“It was a special season and a special group of guys. I loved having the opportunity to work with these young men,” said coach Harthoorn.