DES MOINES | With their names already guaranteed to be written in the annals of school lore, the Clear Lake boys team made more history on Tuesday, playing in the team’s first state tournament game since 1979. After Tuesday, the Lions can call themselves winners for the first time, as they beat West Delaware, 61-46, for the first state victory in school history.
“It means a lot for the school, it means a lot for the town,” coach Jeremey Ainley said. “For us to be the first guys to do it, it’s special.”
Clear Lake got off to a fast start, thanks to the expert shooting of freshman Carson Toebe. Toebe had three 3-pointers and 11 points in the first quarter, helping the Lions to get off to a 20-11 lead.
For a freshman, it was a great way to to make an entrance on the big stage. He finished the game with 16 points, with four 3s. Toebe, who was playing middle school basketball a year ago, was in awe of his surroundings.
"It's been incredible," Toebe said "Right when I walked in, all the lights, all the people. It was special ... it feels great to know I've been a part of one of the best teams in the school's history."
By halftime, the Lions were up by 11. The Hawks outscored the Lions in the third quarter, 16-14, but a poor fourth and an inability to defend against Clear Lake’s deep shooting doomed West Delaware. Senior Drew Enke led the Lions in scoring, with 22 points, shooting above 50 percent from the floor, with two treys. As a team, Clear Lake went 7-of-16 from beyond the arc.
The Lions also excelled on defense, out-rebounding the Hawks 32-20, while holding the Hawks to just 22 percent shooting in the fourth quarter. Clear Lake also held Northern Iowa commit, and Hawks’ all-time leading scorer Derek Krogmann to only 10 points.
“We knew he was a heck of a player,” Ainley said. “We had to limit him, we knew we weren’t going to shut him totally down, but we had to take him off the glass, and make it tough for him to make baskets. I feel we did that.”
You have free articles remaining.
The Lions are in uncharted territory with every game. For a program that has historically had little success, the undefeated season has been a dream come true, and extra special for the team’s seven senior players. Walking up to Wells Fargo Arena and onto the court for the first time, the team had an appreciation for the historical nature of its accomplishments.
“Coming in, we knew coming in that 1979 was the number,” Enke said. “It was 40 years ago that we made state. We got that roadblock out of the way, but we knew that we are 23-0 coming into the playoffs. We’re going to make a run. “
That run will continue on Thursday, when the team takes on Norwalk in the state semifinals. Norwalk’s star player is DI recruit Bowen Born. Born averages 27.2 points per game.
“Now there’s four left,” Ainley said. “Everybody you play is the best of the best. We’re going to have to limit the Born kid, but obviously they’ve got a lot of other weapons as well. There’s reason they’re ranked up there.”
While it’s often said that the first one is the hardest, the competition is only going to get tougher from here for the Lions. They let themselves soak in the atmosphere and bask under the bright lights this time, but now that they’ve tasted success, the team wants more.
“We’re happy to be here, but we’re here to win three games,” Enke said. “That was our goal, we want to win three games, so we came in and experienced it and enjoyed it, but we’ve got to win still.”