DES MOINES – With one heave into the rafters after intercepting the ball Sam Amsbaugh and the West Fork boys basketball team celebrated another trip to the Class 2A state basketball final tonight.
The official scorer called it a turnover, but the point was moot – the Warhawks earned a 51-46 victory over Treynor to face top-ranked Western Christian.
Trailing 37-36 heading into the final quarter, Drew Engebretson hit a big three-pointer and after a lay-up by Trey Castle tied the score, seemingly the forgotten man, Hunter Myers, made some backdoor cuts to the basket untouched for three straight lay-ups to give coach Frank Schnoes’ team the lead for good at 45-39.
“They were playing a triangle-and-two and they were just after our main scorers and they completely forgot about me, so those guys did a great job of finding me and giving me easy lay-ups,” Myers said. “I know I couldn’t have made those without great passes.
“I was just lucky, anyone could have made those, but I ended up being the guy – it was a great find by my teammates.”
In fact, West Fork trailed until the fourth quarter, down 26-23 at the half and 14-12 after the first eight minutes.
Junior 6-foot-6 post player Evan Sprung said that fourth quarter turn-around began with Engebretson.
“Huge shot by Drew,” Sprung said. “That really got the momentum on our side.”
The early woes came when Sam Amsbaugh picked up his second foul early in the second quarter and had to go out. His replacement, Jacob Kuhlemeier, had troubles also, finishing with four fouls – all in the first half.
Schnoes said he emphasized defense at the half.
“They were hurting us in the transition game, beating us down the floor, so we said at halftime, ‘we have to get back.’ They were getting too many transition points and too many easy looks at the basket and we had a lot of foul trouble,” Schnoes said. “Amsbaugh picking up a couple of quick ones, had to sit down, but we kept watching the score and kept it close.”
And, although Myers and Spencer Halloran, who suffered a torn ankle ligament in Tuesday’s quarterfinal game, didn’t practice Wednesday, it didn’t look the case especially in the fourth quarter.
“I told my parents all the time that this was more nerve-wracking this year than last year because senior year is a lot scarier since once you’re done, you’re done for the rest of the time,” Myers said. “I’m not going on to college basketball like Sam is, so I’m trying to take advantage of it and leaving everything out on the court.
“It’s all paying off because I’m playing in the state championship.”
More on this story, plus photos will be found in the March 19 print edition of the Hampton Chronicle.