Posted On: 02/19/18 10:46 PM
Indianola — We expected Garrett Sturtz to be great, and even came in thinking he had a good shot to drop 40. But we had no expectation of seeing the Newton legend drop more than 50 points for the second time in a week; and we certainly wouldn’t have guessed a 50-point Sturtz performance would end with a Newton loss.
The Indians got down early, and after Sturtz set the tone with nine points in the first three minutes, Newton was up 12-4. But things would normalize and the Indianola backcourt of Evan Gauger and Quinn Vesey each took turns gashing the Cardinals; it was Gauger in the first half and Vesey in the second.
The fourth quarter belonged mostly the Indianola, and a third guy, senior Jack Orwig, was crucial in the final quarter to help ensure that Indianola was able to get over the final hump and not only take the lead, but retain it.
The Indians (15-7) advance to Substate semifinals, and will play Waukee Friday night at Waukee. Newton ended their season 14-8.
Newton: 19 6 17 20 — 62
Indianola: 15 9 16 23 — 63
Newton — Garrett Sturtz 54, Grant Garvis 8.
Indianola — Evan Gauger 23, Quinn Vesey 18, Jack Orwig 13, Cole Scott 4, Brady Held 3, Matt Deike 2.
He’s already the leading scorer in Newton history, and then he ripped off two 50-point games in the last week of his high school career, pretty amazing stuff. Sturtz is undecided right now on where he’ll go to college. If he ends up taking a JuCo route, there will be some D1 that’ll be very lucky to have him in two years. If Sturtz heads to a D2, he’ll be an impact player right away. Or maybe there’s some walk-on D1 opportunities. Whatever the case may be, we’ll miss covering this kid, and look forward to seeing him flourish at the next level.
We last saw Gauger play with Indianola when he was a freshman making an impact with the varsity. It was clear then, that he was a skilled guard. We’ve caught glimpses of him over the past two summers with All Iowa Attack, but they were brief. Tonight, we saw that he’s grown considerably (he’s 6’2 now), and his ability to finish at the rim was exceptional. He’s got an extra gear that he uses to burst by his opponent just as he approaches the hoop, something we don’t see too much of. And his passing and court-awareness was key tonight. Gauger is certainly a top-25 prospect in Iowa’s stacked 2019 class.
As good as Gauger was in this game, and he was definitely the MVP for the Indians, his back-court mate, and best friend, Quinn Vesey was equally as dominant at times. The plan was to let him go to work in the third quarter, and that’s just what he did. Vesey scored 10 straight for the Indians to start the second half, and ended that half with 16 points. The two scored a combined 41 points in the win, and they are both back next season in what could be a very good one for the Indians. But first, they’ll try and cause fits for Waukee on Friday in a Substate semifinal, like they Newton did tonight.
There’s been some rough seasons for Indianola of late. Three seasons ago they were 6-16, last season they were 3-19. But what a turnaround they’ve enjoyed this season. After this win, they’re 15-7, and it’s the first time they’ve advanced to a Substate semifinal since 2013 (they also beat Newton in the quarters that season). It’s their first winning season since 2007, and there were several two-win seasons in between then and now. But things have turned around, they have created a winning culture this year. And they have their top two scorers coming back next season.
Sturtz finished this season with a scoring average of 34.7 points, that’s absurd for a 4A player. And he finished the season especially strong, averaging 41.2 points throughout his final nine games. That’s appalling. Tonight he was flashing an array of moves, and what’s always been most special about Sturtz is how calm and deliberate he is on the floor. Every maneuver is well-calculated and he’s mastered the pump-fake and spin-move. He’s able to dominate opponents with sheer smarts. But he can dribble, shoot, pass and jump, too. And that length is menacing on defense. Whatever D1 or D2 ends up landing him, will be glad they did. His will go down as one of the all-time great boys basketball seasons in Iowa high school history.