District play often brings together familiar foes and builds upon long-standing rivalries.
The foes don’t get much more familiar or the rivalries much bigger than what they will be when Lone Tree and Iowa Mennonite face off in the semifinals of the Class 1A District 8 tournament at 6:30 p.m. today in Fairfield.
“In the 26 years that I have coached here, I think 23 out of the 26 years we have run into IMS somewhere in the district trail, so it’s not all that surprising,” Lone Tree coach Tom Squiers said.
Tonight’s matchup between the two SEISC foes will be the third and most important meeting between the two teams this season.
Iowa Mennonite (18-4) won each of the first two meetings, picking up a 59-44 win at home Dec. 6 and winning 53-42 at Lone Tree (15-7) on Jan. 17.
The stakes are raised this time around as the winner advances to the District 8 title game against the winner of Danville and Holy Trinity Catholic while the loser sees its season come to an end.
“It feels a lot different than the regular season games because the loser doesn’t get to keep playing,” Squiers said. “It’s always been a big rivalry ever since IMS joined our conference.”
Iowa Mennonite has won four straight entering tonight’s semifinal, including a 61-43 win over New London in its district opener.
Lone Tree lost its regular season finale to Burlington Notre Dame but rebounded for its third win in less than a month over Winfield-Mount Union in the district opener.
“It’s always tough to play a team three times,” Squiers said. “We just got done playing Winfield-Mount Union for the third time and that was a tough game as well. The good thing about this one is that it is on a neutral floor.”
Part of the key for the Lions will be slowing IMS senior Dallas Nye.
Nye is averaging 20 points and 8.5 rebounds in the two previous meetings with Lone Tree and had 18 points, eight rebounds and seven assists in the last meeting.
“There is a familiarity and there isn’t going to be any surprises in terms of what their players do and the same thing on their end,” Squiers said. “I’m sure coach Gingerich will change a few things up like he usually does, and we are going to throw some different things at them as well. But it’s still going to come down to the intangibles, good defense, rebounding and whoever takes care of the ball the best.”
* A LOOK AHEAD: City High and West High both received opening round byes in the Class 4A Substate 6 tournament and will open postseason play Friday.
City High will host the winner of Wednesday’s game between Newton (11-10) and Ottumwa (2-20) in a substate semifinal while West High will host the Cedar Rapids Prairie (5-16) and Marshalltown (3-19) winner.
Both semifinal games are at 7 p.m.
The winners of Friday’s semifinals will meet in the substate final at 7 p.m. March 4 at Cedar Rapids Prairie.
* PERFORMANCES OF THE WEEK: Mid-Prairie senior Dayton Hall had 20 points, six rebounds and three assists in a 63-61 win over West Liberty.
West Branch junior Mason Hays had 27 points in a 66-48 win over Durant.
City High junior Logan LaFauce had 20 points and five rebounds in a 62-52 win over Cedar Rapids Washington.
West High junior David Dileo had 23 points and 10 rebounds in a 67-64 loss to Dubuque Wahlert, and teammate Wyatt Lohaus had 15 points, eight rebounds and six assists in a 81-56 win over Linn-Mar.