There’s a lot of incredible accomplishments the 2012-13 Centerville boys basketball team can look back on fondly.
– A school-record 18-game winning streak. Check.
– An undefeated run to the South Central Conference title. Check.
– Ranked as high as third in the Class 3A Associated Press boys basketball poll. Check.
– A second straight district title and substate final appearance. Check.
But for all those accomplishments, senior Logan Dabney wanted to add one more before his prep career came to an end.
“I wanted to make it to state,” Dabney said. “We all did.”
Unfortunately for the fourth-ranked Big Reds, a team with state tournament experience proved to be too much of a road block for Centerville to overcome. Grinnell, last year’s fourth-place 3A state tourney team, clinched a return trip to Des Moines with a 48-33 win in the Substate 6 finals Monday night at Oskaloosa High School Gymnasium.
While the Tigers celebrated a substate title for the second straight year, Centerville looked on wondering what might have been.
“We’re definitely going to miss our eight seniors that meant a lot to our program,” Centerville head coach Matt Kruzich said. “We gave it our best shot. We left it all out on the floor. I thought we came out and played hard right from the start.”
The Big Reds established there would not be a repeat of the 72-40 run-away win eventual state champ Mount Pleasant took over the Big Reds in last year’s substate final. Kolton Gonnerman hit his first three shots to lift the Big Reds to an early 10-4 lead.
“(Centerville) is an extremely athletic team. It’s hard to prepare for that,” Grinnell head coach Scott Sharp said.
The Tigers answered back by establishing their biggest advantage. Grinnell forced their way to the foul line early and often, scoring just two field goals while hitting six free throws during a 10-0 run that helped the Tigers take their first lead of the night.
“We were struggling early turning the ball over, but once we started taking the ball we wanted to be aggressive,” Sharp said. “We started taking it at people and we got a few whistles to go our way.”
By the end of the night, Grinnell outscored Centerville 27-5 from the charity stripe. More importantly, the Tigers found a way to get big players for the Big Reds in foul trouble toward the finish.
“It was tough trying to figure out how we were going to juggle the lineup around,” Kruzich said. “We just couldn’t figure out how to get into a rhythm when the whistle blew every time we touched (Grinnell).”
“It seemed like we struggled figuring out how the game was going to be officiated,” Dabney added.
The Big Reds battled back late in the first half to tie the game at 17-17 before a late 3-pointer by Joe Schmidt helped Grinnell take a 22-18 halftime lead. Down by six early in the second half, Payton Busch and Dabney hit back-to-back jumpers to pull Centerville within two before a Clayton Scurr 3-pointer started an 8-0 run for Grinnell.
“We did a good job keeping our composure when we needed to,” senior Eli Dunne said after leading the Tigers with a 13-point, 11-rebound double-double. “Making that run to state last year really helped us a lot in the game.”
The Tigers used their size advantage to continue to keep Centerville stymied offensively. Grinnell held the Big Reds to just 27 percent shooting from the field, including 2-19 from 3-point range, and held Centerville 37 points below their season scoring average.
“We’re a team that likes to get out and run,” Kruzich said. “When the game got more into the half-court, Grinnell had the advantage on us. They’ve got the kind of size we haven’t seen all season.”
Centerville’s last hopes on Monday came after pulling within 37-31 late in the third quarter. The fourth-ranked Big Reds entered the final quarter down by eight, but with three players saddled with four fouls.
“I knew it was going to be tough at that point,” Kruzich said.
Centerville (20-3) scored just one field goal in the final eight minutes, as Grinnell slowly put the game away. It was a painful quarter for Dabney, who was the first of three Big Reds to foul out as the senior watched the last 4:45 of the season from the bench.
“It stinks sitting there watching the game knowing you can’t do anything about it,” Dabney said after leading Centerville with 10 points in his final game. “I really think we’re a better team, but it just wasn’t our night.”
Grinnell (20-4) faces MOC-Floyd Valley in the Class 3A state quarterfinals next Tuesday at 2 p.m.
Class 3A, Substate 6 Final
Grinnell 48, No. 4 Centerville 33
C’ville 10 8 13 2 — 33
Grinnell 11 11 17 9 — 48
Centerville (33) — Logan Dabney 10, Kolton Gonnerman 8, Payton Busch 6, Michael Starcevich 6, Garrett Faris 2, Jared Armington 1. Totals 13-49 5-10 33.
3-point goals — 2-19 (Dabney 1-1, Starcevich 1-5, Faris 0-1, B.J. Gavigan 0-1, Ben Grothe 0-1, Levi Sebolt 0-2, Busch 0-4, Gonnerman 0-4). Fouled out — Dabney, Faris, Starcevich. Rebounds — 35 (Starcevich 9, Dabney 8, Faris 7, Armington 4, Gonnerman 2, Sebolt 2, Jesse Stufflebeem 2, Busch). Assists — 12 (Busch 5, Dabney 2, Faris 2, Armington, Gonnerman, Starcevich). Steals — 8 (Faris 4, Gonnerman 2, Busch, Starcevich). Blocks — 0. Total fouls — 26. Turnovers — 17.
Grinnell (48) — Eli Dunne 13, Joe Schmidt 10, Nate Vosburg 9, Clayton Scurr 8, Zach McGriff 5, Joe Nowasell 3. Totals 9-28 27-39 48.
3-point goals — 3-7 (Nowasell 1-1, Scurr 1-2, Schmidt 1-3, Dunne 0-1). Rebounds — 35 (Dunne 11, Schmidt 8, Vosburg 7, Nowasell 3, Mason Doby 2, McGriff 2, Scurr 2). Assists — 9 (Dunne 4, McGriff 3, Nowasell, Vosburg). Steals — 9 (Dunne 4, Schmidt 2, McGriff, Nowasell, Scurr). Blocks — 3 (Vosburg 2, Dunne). Total fouls — 14. Turnovers — 20.