Men’s basketball takes fourth place, sportsmanship award at state tourney

The fifth seeded Cedar Falls Men’s basketball team didn’t quite have the finish to their season that they wanted, but they still brought home plenty of hardware.

Senior Kalund Brown finishes a fast break against Sioux City North. The Tigers beat the North Stars, 57-46.

Cedar Falls won its first game Wednesday afternoon pulling out a 57-46 victory over Sioux City North, the Tiger’s largest lead of the night came early in the third quarter with Cedar Falls on top 35-20. Sioux City North came back to tie the game with just over three minutes remaining in regulation. Senior Kalehl Brown took this opportunity to put his team on his back, scoring eight points down the stretch for Cedar Falls. The second-team All-Stater would finish the game with 23 points. The Tigers also got a huge defensive lift from both of their big men. Seniors Ike Boettger and Zach Harvey had four blocks apiece, adding to the team total of 10 on the night.

“We’ve always prided ourselves on solid defense and size inside. The blocks really helped. I think defense is what got us this far all year. There weren’t many teams that scored 50 points on us, and [Dubuque] Senior was the only team to do that to us in the tournament,” Harvey said.

In their semi-final game on Friday, Cedar Falls met undefeated first seed Bettendorf. The Bulldogs came back late in the fourth quarter to knock Cedar Falls off 39-36. With less than 10 seconds left and down one point, Kalehl set a pick for his twin brother Kalund Brown, Kalehl rolled off and received the pass from his brother and attempted a contested layup in the lane. On the play there seemed to be significant contact, but no call was made. Bettendorf grabbed the rebound and hit two gimme free throws to secure a three point lead. Boettger tossed up a turnaround jumper from downtown with no time remaining, but it didn’t drop.

“It was tough to deal with the loss. We all wanted the championship and that was our goal, but nobody had us getting that far. We have to remember that,” senior Brandon Bardal said.

In the 4A Consolation game Cedar Falls grabbed an early lead but Dubuque Senior carried the momentum going into the half by scoring four points to knot the game at 19. The Rams took the lead, scoring the first four points of the second half, and never gave it up. Senior’s lead expanded to 12 points in the fourth quarter. “We’d played them earlier and lost by 18, so I definitely think they saw a whole new team on Saturday. We were obviously a lot better team this time around. It was a real physical game,” Kalund said.

Besides grabbing fourth place , Cedar Falls also brought home the sportsmanship trophy. “I think the sportsmanship award reflects on us as a team and a coaching staff on the court. It’s an honor to receive it because it means people noticed us doing the little things,” Harvey said.

Kalehl was named to the all-tournament team, and he also made the Des Moines Register’s second-team All-State, and Jackson Nichols received a $500 grant and was recognized before the 4A Championship game.

Next season Cedar Falls loses 10 seniors, four of whom were starters. Sophomore Keeon Johnson is the lone returning starter for the Tigers next season. “It was a really sweet experience making it to State. It’s a once in a lifetime experience, and I wouldn’t want to do it with anybody else. We’ve been playing since we were in fifth grade together, and that makes it extra special,” Kalund said.

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