ALGONA — It’s postseason time in prep basketball, and that means it is also time for fight-for-your-life basketball as well – win and advance or lose and go home. It’s all about survival at this stage of the game.
In Tuesday’s Class 1A district semifinal game between West Fork and Newman, that’s all it came down, and after two overtimes, a win was all West Fork cared about. The Warhawks survived numerous Newman runs to tie and extend the game, and they walked into a district final with a 65-64 victory over the Knights.
“We’ve lost several overtime games this year … so it’s nice to battle,” West Fork coach Frank Schnoes said. “Give Newman a lot of credit. They hit those 3’s and every one they needed they made.”
After a three-pointer by Joe Scholl with 22 seconds left in regulation tied the game 54-54, each team had a chance to win the game, but both missed on their attempts as the game headed to a first overtime.
Each added four points in the first overtime, and West Fork was the one with the shot to win it with a set play for Ian Latham with under 10 to go, but a floater in the lane clanked off the iron and the game headed to a second OT, tied 58-58.
Behind Thomas Nuehring and Zach Martinek, West Fork built up to a 65-63 lead with 20 seconds to play, and had the ball after Newman missed a shot, but a turnover gave the Knights a chance. Newman was fouled after an offensive rebound and had two free-throw attempts to tie the game, but only hit one as the buzzer expired after the miss on the second.
“I feel more bad for the boys right now when they battled the way that they did,” Newman coach Jerry Gatton said. “I told the boys you’d much rather lose by 30 than lost by one point like we did tonight, especially the way they battled.”
Martinek led all scorers with 30 points while Neuhring and Nathan Meinders scored 11 apiece.
Josh Fitzgerald, who fouled out in the middle of the fourth, paced the Knights with 16, Justin Fausnaugh scored 12 and Joe Scholl had 11.
West Fork will play in a district final Thursday in Clarion.