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Posted On: 02/26/18 10:56 PM
Waukee — Luke Vaske dropped 30 and Bowen Born added 16 points to help Norwalk overcome a sluggish start and punch their ticket to the 3A state tourney.
Maybe the Warriors — who are making their first state appearance since 2011 — were a bit uneasy to start the game; they were missing often and turning the ball over plenty. Winterset, behind a hot start from sophomore Easton Darling, raced out to a 7-2 advantage.
But things quickly normalized, and after the first quarter ended, the game was tied at 12.
From there it was the Luke Vaske show, and the senior point guard — who’s had an amazing season — was flat-out dominant for the Warriors; especially in the second quarter, when he scored 14 of his game-high 30 points. Vaske made five 3s on the night. He and Born certainly make up one of the best backcourts in all of Iowa.
Winterset — 12 16 7 23 — 58
Norwalk— 12 27 17 18 — 74
Winterset: Easton Darling 22, Casey Kleemeier 21, Justin Henry 6, Jayden Carney 3, Nick Mortoza 2, Grant Nolan 2, Nick Baur 2.
Norwalk: Luke Vaske 30, Bowen Born 16, Tyler Endres 14, Michael Geistler 7, Blake Johnson 4, Drew Rosonoke 2.
Luke Vaske Was, and Has Been Incredible
We started Prep Hoops Iowa right when Vaske was coming into his freshman season, and we got a chance to see him the summer after his eighth-grade year at the 2014 Norwalk Team Camp. He was officially the first prospect that wow’ed us — in the history of Prep Hoops Iowa. Not surprisingly, he’s gone on to have a fabulous career, and it’s culminated with this spectacular senior season he’s been putting together. Coming into tonight’s game, Vaske was averaging 19.2 points with 56/44/86 shooting splits, with 9.0 assists and 4.6 rebounds per game. That’s nuts. He brought it tonight, and was dominant at times while going for 30 points on some very efficient shooting.
This game featured Iowa’s 10th-ranked 2020, Easton Darling from Winterset, and its 3rd-ranked 2020, Bowen Born from Norwalk. We’ve seen Born a little bit more than we have Darling, and he’s been special at times. Tonight, with Vaske’s dominance at the forefront, Born was not necessarily shining as bright as he has in the past. But even on a bit of an off night, he got his 16 points, and made some plays that very few his size (5’10) could make. Darling took a lot more shots and made a lot more shots. His team needed him to. His offensive arsenal was on full display, including his range — he canned a 27-footer in the second quarter and made four 3s in the game — plus his quick handles. At one point he posted up the slightly smaller Born and stepped-back to hit a fade-away. Both proved they’re certainly top-10 prospects in their class, and both could see their recruitment take-off this spring and summer.
The Waukee Field House is not a small place, especially the home crowd side. The Norwalk fans filled up the home side, to the very top, and they were very, very loud. I know this better than anybody because Waukee’s media tables are right in the center of the upper half of the home bleachers. Winterset fans were no slouch themselves, they took the visitor’s side, and although they had half the crowd, its side of the gym was filled up. Both were vast, both were loud, and it was one of the more fun atmospheres I’ve been apart of. Especially in the first half, when it was still close.
There’s a lot of really good back-courts in the state, and several of them will be showcased down at Wells Fargo Arena next week. Very few of them, though, are more formidable than the senior/sophomore combo of Vaske and Born. We’ve seen Norwalk twice this season, the first time Born shined and Vaske complimented him, they beat a good Boone squad. The second time was tonight, when Vaske dominated and Born complimented him. It’s been like that all season. And a night when both are off just doesn’t happen. Unfortunately for opponents at “The Well” next week, that’s what they’ll have to hope for if they wanna get past the Warriors.
Norwalk Has All the Pieces
Rarely do you a see a high school team, especially a non-4A squad, that has five distinct positions in their starting lineup. Norwalk has that. Luke Vaske is the point guard; he averages a 3A best nine assists per game. Bowen Born is a quintessential shooting guard; a pure scorer with the handles to boot (he’s a very capable PG, too). Blake Johnson is a bruising small forward; not so much a slasher, but an athletic combo-forward with great vision and passing ability. Daniel Geistler is a power forward, capable of playing a combo-forward; he can swat shots as well as his outside jumper looks. And Tyler Endres is a 6’6 absolute bruiser in the post. the Hawkeyes football-commit stays in the paint and can be dominant if teams don’t have the size to throw at him. Norwalk’s got it all. That’s why they made it to state. But, certain other teams at state will have it all, too (eh-hem, Oskaloosa).