FOREST CITY – The conference crown in the Top of Iowa Conference West Division boys basketball race came down to a winner-take-all matchup as the top two teams, Bishop Garrigan and Forest City, played it out Monday, Feb. 4.
The Indians trailed by three entering the fourth quarter, but the Forest City quickness finally wore down the taller Golden Bears in a 60-53 Forest City victory.
“We told the kids if we kept it close, we have been here before,” Forest City coach Dan Rosacker said. “We had so many guys do so many things well. It takes a team effort.”
The difference in the fourth quarter was the Indians’ ability to force Garrigan turnovers that they were then able to convert to easy baskets that weren't available earlier in the game.
The Indians forced eight turnovers during the final eight minutes and added 7-for-11 shooting from the floor over that same time span to overcome the deficit and pull away.
Forest City was also 7-for-9 from the free-throw line down the stretch to outscore the Bears 23-13 in the final stanza.
Avery Busta, a senior point guard, led the Indians with 19 points.
Noah Miller, a sophomore guard, scored 11 in the fourth quarter and finished with 16 for the game.
The win gives the 17-3 Indians the outright conference crown.
Despite a 16-2 season mark entering play on Tuesday, Feb. 5 the Newman Catholic basketball team still seemed to feel like it had a chip on its shoulder.
The Knights, who are on the verge of claiming their second consecutive Top of Iowa Conference East Division title, may have felt like they were still in search of the win that will make other teams take notice.
After Tuesday, anybody who hadn’t noticed what the Knights have been doing this season will now have to take a strong look.
Newman broke out quickly and held off a strong third-quarter surge to dismantle Top of Iowa Conference West Division champion Forest City 76-50.
“I have wanted this team to play as a team,” Knights coach Jerry Gatton said.
He couldn’t have expected much more than what he saw on Tuesday.
The Knights went on a 17-0 run over the final stages of the first quarter and the start of the second quarter to burst out to a 28-7 lead.
Newman finished the first half with a 39-21 lead after shooting 67 percent from the floor over the first 16 minutes.
To its credit, Forest City regained its composure in the third quarter and pared the margin down to nine, but Newman responded with a 22-7 run to effectively end the game.
“I told the guys if you want to play fast, it has to be a controlled fast,” Gatton said.
Five Knights scored in double figures.
Merritt McCardle, who recently broke the Newman school record for career three-pointers, was 7-for-8 from the floor with five triples and finished with 21 to lead the Knights.
Josh Fitzgerald had eight points in Newman’s final run and had 15 for the game while Brady Gatton had 13, Evan Paulus 11 and Jacob Schutt 10.
Riley Helgeson had 13 for Forest City while Noah Miller added 12.