Posted On: 01/6/18 10:51 AM
Waukee — No.4 Waukee got quite the scare from a one-win Ankeny squad, but was able to escape in double overtime thanks to some timely defensive plays and clutch free-throw shooting down the stretch.
But make now mistake, this Ankeny Hawks squad is not your typical 1-8 team.
The Hawks — led by sophomore Jaxon Smith’s 18 points — had two chances to win it, with the final possession in regulation and overtime. Smith’s 3-attempt fell just short at the end of regulation, bouncing of front iron. And junior Dillon Carlson was stripped of the ball as he was going up for a jumper at the end of the first overtime.
Nathan Nelson was utterly dominant for the Warriors throughout particularly early. He set the tome with 12 first quarter points, and then came alive again in the the overtime periods, scoring eight more. The 6’3 forward finished with a game-high 31 points. Big, athletic wing Nathan Johnson added 20 for the Warriors.
Ankeny was playing without Carlson for the first eight games of the season, and of their eight losses, three have been by three points or less. They will be a very dangerous team down the stretch.
Waukee improves to 8-1 with the win, and have the size, talent and poise to make a very deep run in the post-season.
Ankeny — 12 12 11 18 (OT) 6 (2OT) 6 — 65
Waukee — 16 5 17 15 (OT) 6 (2OT) 11 — 70
Ankeny: Jaxon Smith 18, Dillon Carlson 12, Deaglan Riordan 9, Ben Lyon 8, Jordan Kumm 8, Jaron Crews 7.
Waukee: Nathan Nelson 31, Nathan Johnson 20, Noah Hart 9, Dillon Jones 7, Jaxx Rittman 2, Michael Vicente 2.
Waukee Has Chance
It may not have been their best effort of the season, but the fact is; good teams just find a way. That’s exactly what Waukee did in this one. At their best, these Warriors are capable of beating anyone, and they have the size, talent and experience to make them a legitimate threat come late-February and March. Will we see Noah Hart, Nathan Johnson and Co. down at Wells Fargo Arena then? There’s a distinct possibility, we will.
This is a Hawks team that has won just one game, yes. But they are probably the best 1-8 team I’ve ever seen. They were without standout junior Dillon Carlson for the first seven games of the season, and they’ve lost five of their eight games by three points or less — so there’s some rationale. They are confident, engaged and fearless, and they have enough talent on the roster to win their fair-share of games in the ladder part of the season. The Hawks could not only play spoiler, but they have a chance to make a run in the post-season themselves.
The future is bright in Ankeny, and the proof was in the final stages of this game. Sophomore guard Jaxon Smith scored 14 of his 18 points in the fourth quarter and overtime, wow. And all of the Hawks’ first overtime points came from underclassmen, Smith, freshman Jaron Crews and sophomore Jordan Kumm.
“They’re a fun bunch of guys, I honestly wouldn’t trade them for any underclassmen,” said senior Ben Lyon. “They’re skill-set is huge, and the future is bright at Ankeny.”
It was the Nathan Johnson and Nathan Nelson show for the Warriors in this one. Nelson, a 6’3 combo-forward was absolutely dominant in the first quarter, manhandling the Hawks in the paint en route to 12 early points. Then it was Johnson’s turn to take the reins, he notched 16 second half points, using his great size and bounce to score at or near the rim at will. Then it was Nelson’s turn again, in the overtimes he scored eight of the Warriors’ 15 total points. Between the two of them, they scored 51 of the team’s 70 points.
If I’m covering a Waukee game, it’s a home game, and at least once a year I try and make a trip to the Waukee Fieldhouse. As far as I’ve seen, it’s the best facilities in the state (though Johnston fans have things to say), something a Division II college hoops program might envy. My favorite part about the gym is the old-school four-sided scoreboard, but there’s the state of the art jumbotron, too. And you can watch live game action on it. The seating is vast and the lighting is unique. It’s like studio lighting, very calming, not abrasive like some gyms. I’ll be back, sooner rather than later.