Posted On: 02/25/18 3:31 PM
West Des Moines — In what was a mostly clunky game between the Tigers and Jaguars, it was a flashy coast-to-coast drive from one of Iowa’s best 2019s Tryavon Williams that was the most critical play of the game.
Centennial point guard Hunter Strait scored 12 of his 15 points in the second half and overtime, and it was deep 3-pointer with 35 seconds to go in the extra frame that nearly cemented a win for the Jags.
But Williams — who holds a South Dakota State offer — grabbed the inbound and went the length of the floor to put in a tough lay-in off the glass to give the Tigers a one point advantage. That would ultimately be the game-winning bucket.
Valley will play Hoover Tuesday night in a Substate final; a rematch of a Substate final from last season. The winner will advance to the state tournament.
Centennial — 11 8 14 10 OT – 3 — 46
Valley — 10 11 15 7 OT – 5 — 48
Centennial: Hunter Strait 15, Jackson Brannan 12, Micah Johnson 6, Zach Kluver 5, Ben Breeding 4, Brandon Van Meter 4, Lathan Brandt 1.
Valley: Michael Bryan 18, Trayvon Williams 10, Carter Frey 9, Derek Emelifeonwu 6, Noah Samples 5.
If there were two guys we expected to be a cut above the rest tonight, it was Valley’s Trayvon Willims and Centennial’s Hunter Strait. Both are among the top-ranked prospects in their respective classes (Strait 2018, Williams 2019), and it was a 10 second burst late in overtime when their clutch genes showed. With 35 seconds left, and his Jaguars down two, Strait canned a 23-footer to give his team the advantage. Before I could get his triple marked in the score book, Valley’s Williams had taken an inbound and gone the length of the court to put in what would ultimately be a game-winning bucket off the glass. The clutch gene separates the good ones from the great ones.
On any given night, anyone in the Valley rotation can beat you. Tonight, it was senior forward Michael Bryan, who averages 7.2 points per game. He scored 18 in the overtime. This season, there’s seven guys that average between 4.4 points and leading scorer Trayvon Williams’ 10.2 per game. Centennial guard Jackson Brannan said it best after the game.
“They’re all-around, they had Michael Bryan score 18 and any given night they could have Trayvon go for 20, Brinkmeyer go for 20, they’re so well-rounded, they use their length well and they’re a hell of a defensive team.”
It was very clear after the game that this Centennial squad was a tight knit group that cared deeply about their season. There was hardly a dry eye as they exited the locker room following a lengthy post-game meeting with their coaches. Maybe it had something to do with a heartfelt Hunter Strait speech, when he told the guys , according to coach Bob Fontana, “And then Hunter, he told the kids afterwards, he said ‘you guys were so accepting, I should have come earlier than I did.’” Strait came to Centennial from Cedar Rapids Washington at the beginning of last season. Both he and his teammates were overcome with emotion after the loss. What a tough one it was.
We’ve been doing this Prep Hoops Iowa thing for just about four years now, and the class of 2018 is the first one we’ve covered from start to finish. That means, we’ve probably written about Hunter Strait just about more than anybody ever since the genesis of Prep Hoops Iowa in April of 2014. We currently have him ranked as the 5th-ranked player in is class, and he’s headed to D2 Truman State next season. As a senior, Strait averaged 16.2 points per game, and at times was dazzling for the Jags. He’s certainly one of the finer ball handlers and shot-creators we’ve seen in Iowa since 2014. He’ll be missed.
In a rematch of a Substate final from a season ago, this season’s version should again be a doozy. Valley advanced to state last season after winning a 45-43 overtime match against the Huskies. Hoover comes into this one with a 19-2 mark, and is the 6th-ranked team in the state. However, they’ve been slumping of late, barely getting by an 8-13 Marshalltown squad, 48-44, in a Substate semifinal; that was after losing by 20 to Johnston in the regular-season finale. Valley started the season not great, and at 6-7 had us wondering what might be wrong. Well, the Tigers (15-7) have enjoyed a stark turnaround, and are winners of nine straight heading into to Tuesday’s showdown. This sets up what should be another sensational match-up, and you can expect the first to score 40 might win it.