KEOTA — It was a Class 1A district semifinal matchup in Keota between the home standing Keota Eagles and the North Mahaska Warhawks Thursday night. To say that the Eagles enjoyed the friendly confines of the Eagle’s nest would be an understatement.
The Eagles controlled the tempo of the game, forced North Mahaska into a more deliberate pace and took away the running game that the Warhawks love. Keota moved the ball very well and found the open shots. The Eagles shot a high percentage and were able to answer any NM challenge.
The handwriting was on the wall in the first quarter as Keota’s Luke Hammen provided the opening salvo. Hammen launched a three ball from well behind the NBA range and it found nothing but the bottom of the net. Lane Harmon answered with a three ball for the Warhawks, but the Eagles used an 11-4 run to finish the period with a 16-7 lead.
The Warhawks matched the Eagles point for point in the second stanza, but could never string together a run that would cut into the Keota lead. Nash Smith buried a three and a pair of duces and Dylan Klinker nailed a triple and a drive shot for the Warhawks, but the Eagles held a 32-21 lead going into intermission.
The Eagles went back to work in quarter number three and gradually increased the lead to 45-30 with 2:53 left in the third frame.
At that point the Warhawks began to find some life with a 6-0 run to finish the quarter. Smith connected on the inside, Blake Readshaw drained a pair of free throws and Branden Steel pounded one home on the inside to close the gap to 45-36 going into the final eight minutes.
As the fourth quarter opened, Steel sandwiched a free throw around single free throws by Keota’s Hammen and Brady Duwa to leave the Warhawks trailing by 47-37. The NM hit a 5-0 spurt to cut the deficit to five at 47-42. Steel notched an inside bucket and a free throw and Smith connected on a tip in during the surge.
Duwa countered with an inside bucket, but Klinker rifled in a three ball to cut the lead to 49-45. Perhaps there was light at the end of the tunnel. But the light proved only to be the Keota evening freight as the Eagles used a 15-6 run over the last three minutes to post a 64-51 win.
“Their shooters were hot,” NM coach Seth Streebin said. “They shot well and didn’t miss many. They took us out of the tempo we like and made us play a half court game. That is not our strong suit. By slowing us down they cut a 70-point game to a 50-point game.”
Steel led the Warhawks with a double-double of 14 points and 11 rebounds while Smith added 13 points and four assists and Klinker had 10 points and three steals. Readshaw also chipped in with three steals. Hammen led the Eagles with 21 points and Carson Sprouse and Wyatt Sieren were also in double digits with 12 and 10 points respectively.
The Warhawks finish the season at 16-5 and they bid farewell to seniors Blake Readshaw, Dylan Klinker, Addy Bollman, Ty Kelderman and Brady Sterling.
North Mahaska 7 14 15 15 - 51
Keota 16 16 13 19 - 64
North Mahaska scoring (FG FTM-FTA) – Blake Readshaw 1 2-2 4, Dylan Klinker 3 2-2 10, Lane Harmon 3 0-0 7, Addy Bollman 1 0-0 3, Braden Steel 5 4-7 14, Nash Smith 6 0-0 13. Team 19 8-11 51. Three point goals (5) – Klinker 2, Harmon 1, Bollman 1, Smith 1.
North Mahaska rebounds (17) – Steel 11, Smith 2, Harmon 2, Klinker 1, Readshaw 1.
North Mahaska steals (8) – Readshaw 3, Klinker 3, Steel 1, Smith 1.
North Mahaska assists (11) – Smith 4, Steel 2, Harmon 2, Readshaw 2, Klinker 1.