ANKENY, Ia. — In November, when the boys’ basketball season began, more than 300 teams set out with the goal of reaching Wells Fargo Arena for the state tournament.
After Tuesday night, we’re officially down to 32.
The Class 4A substate finals all unfolded around the state on Tuesday, and there were some performances to remember. Some teams coasted through to state while others needed overtime. A couple of teams reached state for the first time in a quarter century; others are making return trips.
The boys’ state tournament is officially less than a week away, so let’s Take Five to recap the top substate action in Iowa’s biggest class.
Hinkle’s helps Valley hold off Hoover
Austin Hinkle didn’t get to play when Valley and Hoover squared off the first time on Dec. 2. The senior sat out after violating team rules, and the Huskies rolled to a 45-30 win over the Tigers.
On Tuesday, Hinkle suited up for 4A’s Substate 8 final, pitting Valley against Hoover once again. There are many reasons why the Tigers came away with a 45-43 overtime victory at Ankeny Centennial High School.
Hinkle was among them.
Not only did he lead Valley (19-4) with 11 points, but he added the two that mattered most. With one second left in the extra period, Hinkle went to the line and sank two free throws to break a 43-43 tie. Hoover missed the ensuing last-gasp shot, and the Tiger faithful went bananas.
“It feels really good,” Hinkle said. “I put in a lot of work this offseason on my free throws because I kind of struggled with that last year. So it was kind of a perfect ending.”
The game itself was physical, intense and, above all, fantastic. It featured tenacious defense and slick offense, along with four ties and six lead changes. It was very much a game that maybe, probably, should’ve been played at the Well next week.
Aldreias Campbell Jr. was brilliant for the Huskies, putting up 21 points behind five 3-pointers, the last of which tied the game at 41. Doug Wilson scored 8 on 4-of-5 shooting and added three blocks, but Valley made it a point to make life difficult on Wilson in the paint, a tactic that worked.
“We thought we had a real advantage with (Charley Crowley) and (Quinton Curry) are in the game together,” Valley coach B.J. Windhorst said. “If you take away their perimeter shots — and their guards came to play — we really didn’t give them a whole lot. We kept Doug in check.
“We just made enough plays down the stretch to get it done.”
And when it came down to Hinkle, Windhorst wasn’t worried. A year ago, Hinkle attempted just 17 free throws, and missed seven of them. He entered Friday night shooting 82 percent from the line.
The hard work paid off, and because of it, Valley has a chance to defend its state title.
Historic night for North
The last time the Des Moines North boys’ basketball team reached the state tournament, none of the players on the current roster were alive. (Neither was I.)
It was in 1991, when the tournament was held at Veteran’s Auditorium. The Polar Bears took third that year. They beat Cedar Rapids Kennedy in the quarterfinals, dropped a lopsided result to Ames in the semifinals, and rebounded to beat Carrol Kuemper in the consolation final.
On Tuesday, North beat Ankeny, 88-68, in 4A’s Substate 2 final at Dallas Center-Grimes High School. It is the Polar Bears’ 12th-straight victory, and their sweetest one to date as it pushed them to the state tournament for the first time in 26 years.
It will be North’s fourth trip to the state tournament — the other three came in 1991, 1971 and 1967. The Polar Bears enter at 18-5 overall and haven’t lost since Jan. 10, when, get this, Ankeny nipped them, 90-85.
Newton, Dubuque Hempstead continue stellar runs
North wasn’t the only team that reached state for the first time in a long time on Tuesday.
The Newton boys’ basketball team beat Johnston, 48-44, in 4A’s Substate 7 final at Roosevelt High School. It will be the Cardinals’ ninth trip to state, and first since 1992 (they lost in the quarterfinals to Indianola that year).
Newton, now 19-5 overall, navigated the likes of Urbandale and Dowling Catholic to reach Tuesday’s substate final, winning both games by a combined 11 points. Against Johnston, the Cardinals opened on a 20-5 run and held off the Dragons late to clinch victory.
Out near the Illinois border, Dubuque Hempstead downed crosstown rival Dubuque Senior, 53-50, in 4A’s Substate 4 final to reach the state tournament for the first time in school history.
Senior led at half, 26-23, but Hempstead opened the third quarter on a 10-2 run and never looked back. The Mustangs, now 18-5 overall, battled through 11 lead changes to beat Senior for the first time this season — the Rams won both previous matchups by double digits.
Iowa City West too much for future Hawkeye Wieskamp
A battle between arguably the state’s best player and, inarguably, the state’s best team took place at the U.S. Cellular Center in Cedar Rapids on Tuesday. It should come as no surprise that the team ultimately won out.
Top-ranked Iowa City West beat Muscatine, 83-44, in 4A’s Substate 5 final. The Trojans are headed to state for the seventh consecutive year and for the 17th time in the program’s long, successful history — one that includes six state titles.
This matchup was intriguing on many levels, but perhaps the most interesting was seeing how Muscatine’s Joe Wieskamp would matchup against Iowa City West. Wieskamp, a junior, entered Tuesday leading the state with 30.5 scoring average.
Wieskamp nearly matched that averaged against the stiff Trojan defense, scoring 28 points, but according to the Iowa City Press Citizen’s Matthew Bain, 17 came in the second half, when the game was already out of reach.
Iowa City West, now 20-3 overall and winners of 15 straight games against in-state teams, proved to be too much. Devonte Lane dropped 21 points. Connor McCaffery added 19 and spent much of the game guarding Wieskamp. The two are set to be teammates at Iowa in the coming years.
“We control our own destiny,” McCaffery said afterward. “If we defend well, I think we have a really good chance. We’re tough on offense as it is. And if we stick to our rules and have a solid gameplan going in, I think that we’ll definitely be a team to beat.”
Sioux City East, Cedar Rapids Kennedy and Bettendorf round out 4A field
The other three teams that advanced on Tuesday night are all teams that could be considered regulars at the Class 4A state tournament.
Sioux City East beat Council Bluffs Lincoln 79-63 in 4A’s Substate 1 final at the Tyson Event Center in Sioux City. The Raiders (21-2) advance to state for the 18th time, but this will be their first since 2012.
Cedar Rapids Kennedy beat Cedar Falls 48-41 in 4A’s Substate 3 final at the U.S. Cellular Center. The Cougars (18-5) are onto state for the 15th time in school history.
Bettendorf also reached state for the 15th time on Tuesday night. The Bulldogs advanced to 18-5 overall with a 46-44 win over North Scott (Eldridge) in 4A’s Substate 6 final at Davenport West.
The brackets for each class will be announced at 1 p.m. on Wednesday at IHSSN.com.
Cody Goodwin covers high school sports, college basketball recruiting and Drake athletics for the Des Moines Register. Follow him at @codygoodwin.
Photo gallery: Photos: Valley boys win thriller to advance to state