Posted On: 01/31/18 3:14 PM
Dunkerton beat the Dons earlier this season, 59-55, in a game in which Don Bosco played short handed (point guard Jack Kelley was injured). And the Dons made sure to show they were the better team in this one, controlling the game from the 3:30 mark of the first quarter on. Dunkerton started fine, leading 6-4 at that point, but it was all Don Bosco after that, as the Dons closed the quarter on a 9-2 run, extended that run to 20-6, and took a 14-point lead into the half.
The second half was much of the same, with a dribble penetration-heavy attack routinely getting into the paint, while making Dunkerton almost exclusively take turns firing up 3s. The Dons approached a running clock in the second half.
Don Bosco improved to 15-2 with the win. Sean McFadden led three in double figures with 14 points. He was honored before the game for scoring 1,000 career points. Jack Kelley and Zach Nie each added 12 points in the win.
Dunkerton fell to 16-2 on the year with the loss. Zach Johnson was the only Raider to finish in double figures, with 13. points.
Cover photo credit: Mark Woodley, KWWL
Dunkerton: Zach Johnson 13, Dalton Burch 8, Kaleb Westendorf 6, Brady Happel 5, Brady Stone 5, Riley Tisue 2
Don Bosco: Sean McFadden 14, Jack Kelley 12, Zach Nie 12, Clayton Weber 8, Zach Huff 6, Kendall Becker 6, Cael Tenold 4
Jack Kelley, difference maker
Don Bosco’s point guard, junior Jack Kelley, missed the first meeting between these teams, won by Dunkerton 59-55. In that game, 36.7% of the Dons field goal attempts came from behind the arc, and they shot just 36.7% from the floor. In this game, just 17% (9 of 53) shots were from the arc, and they shot 49.1% from the floor. The difference? Jack Kelley. His ability to either score or facilitate by breaking down a defense and getting into the paint was crucial, and was something the Dons had to have missed in the first game. He’s a really solid all-around point guard, who contributes across the board, and was obviously missed in that loss. And while his presence isn’t the only reason they were able to get revenge, he was definitely a huge part of it. Having him in the lineup completely changes the way they attack both offensively and defensively. He finished with 12 points, eight rebounds, six assists and three steals.
Don Bosco’s backcourt
Kelley isn’t the only standout in the backcourt for the Dons. Zach Nie, the Dons’ leading scorer at 16.5 points a game and 44.7% from the arc, passed the 1,000 career point mark with his first bucket of the game, and he pairs perfectly with Kelley to give Don Bosco a dynamic one-two punch in the backcourt. Kelley is the slasher, distributor and finisher, while Nie is a sharpshooter who uses his shooting ability to then open up the rest of his arsenal. Throw Zach Huff in there, and the Dons have one of the better backcourts in 1A, and they were dominant on both ends in this win.
Executing the game plan
Don Bosco executed their defensive game plan to perfection, and it’s the biggest reason why the Dons won in blowout fashion. Dunkerton isn’t a great 3-point shooting team (31.2%), and knowing this, the Dons went under every single screen and sagged their defense back into the paint. The result? 4-38 shooting from the arc by the Raiders (at least three of the makes came in the fourth quarter with the game well in hand, and all four makes came in the second half). That’s 10.5%. In the first meeting between these teams, won by Dunkerton, 37.3% of the Raiders shot attempts came from behind the arc, a fairly typical number among Iowa high school teams. In this meeting, 57.6% (38 of 66) attempts came from the arc. And when you’re forcing a team that doesn’t shoot the ball particularly well into shooting only jumpers, it’s going to end up working out well. Of course, part of the reason this works is because Don Bosco has the athletes to play this style of defense. Not every 1A team that Dunkerton runs across is going to be able to keep them out of the paint, but in this game, this was the biggest difference between the teams. Don Bosco got into the paint via dribble penetration, Dunkerton had to chuck up 3s all night and hope they went in.
Evaluating postseason draws
We’re nearing the end of the regular season for 1A and 2A schools, and postseason play will be starting soon. Dunkerton got a fairly favorable draw in their district, having posted a 7-0 record to date against teams they’re grouped with. Their biggest competition will likely come from Janesville, a team they’ve beaten twice. Should they make it through district play, they’ll likely run into either Wapsie Valley or Edgewood-Colesburg in the substate final, a game in which they’d probably be favored slightly. Things set up well for the Raiders to make a run to the state tournament, despite the poor showing here. They have good athletes who should be able to get to the rim and pound the glass against a majority of 1A schools, just not against a team with athletes like Don Bosco who can match them.
The Dons got a less advantageous draw, particularly when we reach the substate round. In district play, Hudson or Rockford could give them a decent battle, but they’re the best team in the group and should move through. However, the substate matchup against Bishop Garrigan (or St. Edmond, West Fork or Newman Catholic) would be a tough one. Bishop Garrigan is probably the biggest team in 1A, which would give a Dons team that relies on dribble penetration some issues. Guard play wins at the high school level, however, and Don Bosco has a good backcourt, so they could make a run to the tournament. Their road will just be a little bumpier.
The environment was everything you can ask for from a small 1A town. I got to the gym while the JV game was still in the second quarter, well over an hour before the varsity game was supposed to start. And when I arrived, I was told there were no seats to be had. Thankfully the administration opened up another entryway to stand in near the Don Bosco bench (shout out assistant coach Andrew Krause for showing me), allowing me to have a view of the action. The gym was steaming hot, packed with fans from both schools (as you can see in the cover photo from KWWL’s Mark Woodley) and loud. This is what high school basketball should be.