Wolverines’ season comes to end in regional finals

Braden West rises over a defender in East Mills’ 61-31 win over Diagonal in district play.

It’s what every coach wants.

Down one point with 40 seconds left on the clock, East Mills coach Kevin Schafer’s offense set up for one final shot.

But it was not to be.

Council Bluffs St. Albert got the defensive stop it needed and then hit four straight free throws to secure a 48-44 win over the Wolverines in the Class 1A, District 14 finals in Clarinda Tuesday night.

“It would have been nice to have a shot at the end,” said East Mills coach Kevin Schafer. “You don’t know if you’re going to make it anyway but you’d like the shot.”

The two teams struggled with their shot for much of a game that was defensive-minded and rugged at times and consistently back-and-forth on the scoreboard.

“Both teams has stretches where they struggled offensively,” Schafer said. “I thought the (Carter) White kid was probably the difference. He was in as good a flow as anyone on the floor. We had our chance and we didn’t capitalized. But like in any game, there were lots of opportunities throughout. There was a negligible difference between the two teams. It was probably a toss up talent wise. And one team has to lose.”

White scored a game-high 20 points and played a key role for the Falcons on defense and the free throw line late.

Schafer elected not to run a final play inside 40 seconds, instead running a patient version of his base offense. And it nearly worked.

“One of our kids flashed open on the baseline near the basket and they played pretty good defense – the pass probably had to be thrown perfectly  and it was off a little bit. It hit our hands but went off out of bounds.”

White got his hands on that pass and then hit both of his free throws on the other end to put the lead to 46-43. The Falcons fouled the Wolverines before they could take a potential game-tying three-pointer. They hit the first free throw Schafer had his shooter intentionally miss the second to try and get the ball back but the Falcons’ Dan McGrath secured it.

McGrath, a 38.5 percent free throw shooter on the season, clinched the win.

“He was probably their worst free throw shooter and he hit both,” Schafer said.

“Our effort was really good. It was definitely not one of our better games as far as how we played but our effort was good throughout. I don’t question our effort at all. We could have played better but the effort was there.”

Braden West scored 17 points and Mason Crouse 14 to lead East Mills.

The Wolverines close out the season with a record of 18-6. They return essentially their entire roster next season.

“We have our whole team coming back so this was good experience for our kids,” Schafer said. “I told the boys we’re a good team and we are but we played teams like Auburn, Neb. and West Harrison there’s definitely a jump in talent level and skill.

If we want to be better than just good, we need to make a jump. Right now, we’re not good enough. We need to put in the effort if we want to one of the best 1A teams in the area.”


East Mills 54,

Bedford 40

East Mills had four players score eight or more points and the Wolverines slowly pulled away from Bedford for a 54-40 victory in the Class 1A District 8 semifinals in Malvern Thursday.

East Mills edged the Bulldogs 41-38 back in December, but Wolverine’s head coach Kevin Schafer said his team didn’t have a good night offensively in that win.

“I thought it was important we get off to a good start offensively,” Schafer said. “They held us down pretty well the first time played them. I thought offensively we gained some confidence. I thought Peyton Embree and Zach Thornburg played their best games in a while. Both of them. Getting other players to play well along with (leading scorers) Mason (Crouse) and Braden (West) is very important.”

Crouse scored 17 and West 15 to lead the Wolverines. Thornburg added 11 points and Embree eight.

The Wolverines also held an advantage on the glass, grabbing 14 offensive rebounds.

“We had a lot of putback points,” Schafer said. “Braden West rebounded really well inside as did Peyton. They both went up strong and got a lot of points that well. We played well defensively pretty much all game. We did a much better job locking up their dribble drive.”

The Wolverines (18-5) advanced to last night’s district semifinals at Clarinda. Results of that game were not available as of publication (see coverage on www.opinion-tribune.com).

East Mills 61,
Diagonal 31

East Mills got off to a good start offensively and defensively and overcame some bumpy second half play in a 61-31 victory over Diagonal in Class 1A, District 14 boys basketball quarterfinals in Malvern Monday night.

The Wolverines opened the game on a 12-3 run and saw that lead extend to as many as 19 in the first half.

“We had a great first half, on both ends of the floor,” said East Mills coach Kevin Schafer after the game. “And then defensively we had some guys lose focus and stop doing what they were doing. I’m guessing some of that had to do with the score differential. We talked about staying focused for four quarters at this time of year.

“We can’t have these sort of let-ups. Some of them did have a better fourth quarter defensively.”

After taking a 33-15 into halftime, East Mills scored the first six points of the third quarter and looked all but prepared to blow the Maroons out of the water. But a cold spell that saw them connect on just one field goal the remaining 6:30 of the frame allowed Diagonal to respond with an 8-0 run of their own and had the lead to 12 at one point.

The Wolverines got the lead back to 42-25 to open the fourth quarter. But that lead quickly jumped to 53-27 thanks to back-to-back layups by Braden West, a three-pointer and a layup by Jackson Embree.

“We played better in the fourth quarter – but not as good as the first half,” Schafer said.

Too many times in the game, Schafer said, his team was careless with the ball or didn’t do the little things that separate good teams from great ones in the postseason.

“We had too many fast breaks where we made bad decisions and ended up with nothing,” he said. “We’d have a turnover or a tough shot. We should have had much better shots than we got. Offensively we also got a little stagnant and guys were standing around. It became a one-on-one show and we’re not quite good enough to play like that.”

West notched a double-double for the Wolverines with 18 points and 11 rebounds and Mason Crouse chipped in 14 points.

Ben Werneck scored 10 points to pace Diagonal.


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