Steve Ottoson has been coaching long enough to have run across a tough loss or two.
Still, the Clear Creek Amana coach had a hard time coming up with one tougher than what the Clippers had Monday.
Clear Creek Amana let a 10-point lead slip away in the final three minutes of regulation and fell to Benton Community 60-59 in overtime in a Class 3A district opener.
“This one is really going to be tough to get over,” Ottoson said. “To play so hard and lead the whole game and dominate the whole game like we did, this one is going to be a tough one to swallow for a long time.”
Clear Creek Amana looked nothing like a 6-15, fourth-seeded team for most of the game Monday.
The Clippers got off to a slow start but used a 12-3 run to open the second quarter and take a 21-15 lead.
Benton Community (18-4) wouldn’t lead again until Nate Woeste hit what proved to be the game-winning free throws with 12 seconds left in overtime.
“It just rips your heart out,” Ottoson said. “Our kids played so hard. They did everything we asked them to do, everything.”
Clear Creek Amana led 28-22 at the half and upped the lead to 39-28 after three quarters.
The Clippers took their biggest lead of the game at 41-28 on a basket by Drew Wagner 23 seconds into the fourth quarter.
Wagner finished with a double-double for the Clippers, with 16 points and 16 rebounds.
“He was a man,” Ottoson said of Wagner. “He’s been playing better the last few games and he played the whole second half and overtime, and he had to be gassed, but they didn’t have an answer for him.”
Benton scored six straight points to cut the lead to 41-34, but Clear Creek pushed the lead back to 44-34 with less than four minutes to play.
However, Benton again rallied using a 13-4 run to cut the lead to 48-47 with 1:12 left.
Clear Creek Amana got three free throws from Noah Whittinghill on the next two possessions to make the score 51-47 but wouldn’t score again while Woeste hit four of five free throws in the final 6.9 seconds to force overtime.
Woeste was fouled by Whittinghill with .2 seconds left in regulation and hit both free throws to force overtime.
“A foul with two tenths left. That’s tough to take,” Ottoson said. “If we don’t foul them there, the game is probably over, but (Whittinghill) was being aggressive and trying to make a play.”
Clear Creek Amana took a 59-56 lead in overtime on a pair of free throws by Cal Miller, but a putback by T.J. Morris cut the lead to 59-58 with 1:24 left, setting up Woeste’s late-game heroics.
The senior guard was fouled with 12 seconds left and hit both free throws to give the Bobcats their first lead since early in the second quarter.
“They really believed we could do it,” Ottoson said. “I was confident we were going to win going into the game, and I know our kids were, too.”
Clear Creek Amana had a chance to win at the buzzer, but Cal Miller’s open 3-pointer came up just short.
“That was dead on,” Ottoson said. “His 3-point shot is like a layup. He’s a great shooter, so I have no problem with that shot, and I’m glad he took it.”
Miller and Whittinghill both finished with 11 points for Clear Creek Amana, while Josh Dillon added seven.
“Drew was a man, and Noah did a great job of getting us going,” Ottonson said. “They all played so hard, every one of them. I’m so proud of them.”
CLEAR CREEK AMANA (59) – Noah Whittinghill 2-5 7-15 11, Mitchell Stopko 0-2 0-0 0, Keyan McAraeavy 2-5 0-0 4, Cal Miller 2-4 6-6 11, Cody Wagner 2-4 0-1 4, Nile Rourke 3-9 0-06, Josh Dillon 3-5 1-2 7, Drew Wagner 7-9 2-3 16. Totals 21-42 16-27 59.
BENTON COMMUNITY (60) – Nate Woeste 4-12 14-17 22, Cam Touro 2-8 0-0 6, Owen Hopkins 4-9 2-3 10, Hunter Semelroth 0-2 0-0 0, Ben Twedt 1-6 1-5 3, TJ Morris 3-6 6-6 12, Tucker Schroeder 3-9 1-2 7. Totals 17-50 24-35 60.
3-point field goals – CCA 1-9 (Whittinghill 0-1, Stopko 0-2, McAraeavy 0-2, Miller 1-3, Dillon 0-1) BC 2-14 (Woeste 0-4, Touro 2-7, Hopkins 0-1, Twedt 0-1, Morris 0-2). Rebounds – CCA 34 (D. Wagner 16) BC 31 (Twedt 6, Schroeder 6). Turnovers – CCA 23, BC 11. Total fouls – CCA 26, BC 22. Fouled out – Whittinghill, Twedt. Technicals – None.