For the Clear Lake boys basketball team, Tuesday was a day unlike any in school history. With the Lions' first state tournament victory in program history, the players got to be a part of a history-making moment. For freshman Carson Toebe, just one year removed from playing on the eighth-grade team at Mason City middle school, the tournament was an awe-inspiring spectacle.
“To come out here, and get our first win in school history in the state tournament, it’s huge,” Toebe said. “Especially since we haven’t been here in 40 years.”
That’s right. 40 years. The Lions have not made the tournament since 1979, and even then, they were done after just one game. When the players walked out of the tunnel during pregame introductions on Tuesday, they gathered near the basket, and jumped around in a huddle with smiles on their faces, and the hopes of a town upon their shoulders.
Many players have come and gone through the Clear Lake program, with none ever getting as far as the 2019 Lions. On Tuesday, Toebe took advantage of his opportunity. He shot three 3-pointers in the first quarter, with 11 points, sending the crowd into a frenzy.
When the buzzer sounded, the crowd cheered loudly and Toebe’s teammates high-fived him as he walked toward the huddle. He finished the game with 16 points, and four 3s.
“I caught fire and just kept shooting,” Toebe said. “There’s not much you can do when you’re making all of those.”
Toebe has had an immediate impact in his initial season with the Lions. The freshman is Clear Lake’s third-leading scorer, with 274 total points, and an average of 11.4 points per game. He is also the Lions' main deep threat, with a 40.7 average from 3-point territory.
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He also leads the team in free-throw percentage and assists, and is third on the team with 110 rebounds. He is a big reason that the Lions have gone further than they ever have before.
“It feels great to know that I’ve been a part of one of the best teams in school history,” Toebe said. “I’m really excited for the years to come.”
Next for the Lions is the state semifinal against 21-4 Norwalk, on Thursday. Bowen Born leads the team with 27.7 points per game, and 692 total points. But with his team still undefeated, Toebe is confident that the Lions have a shot to win, and clinch a spot in the state finals.
“I know they’ve got an amazing team out there,” Toebe said. “I think it’s going to be a challenge. If we’re high intensity and knock down shots, I think we’ve got a shot at them.”
With Toebe, along with seniors Tate Storbeck and Drew Enke, the Lions do not lack for scoring threats. With a talented offense, and a defense that held West Delaware star Derek Krogmann to just 10 points, Coach Jeremey Ainley knows that his team will be able to handle the pressure as they creep deeper into the postseason.
“We have a complete team.” Ainely said. “ ... as we’ve done all year, it’s just a team effort. We knew it was big and that it was a production. It’s a show. It’s lived up to all that.”