Quantum of solace: North Tama finds peace in 4th place

DES MOINES – Perspiration mixed with tears as the sting of defeat still hung on the Redhawks.

Reflecting on the journey as a whole, disappointment gave way to smiles, pride and a sense of accomplishment as North Tama recounted the records, effort and experience from the greatest season in school history.

“I was real emotional before and after the game because we put all our heart and soul into this,” Redhawk senior Mitchell Boerm said following North Tama’s 80-56 loss to top-ranked Danville in the Class 1A consolation game of the Iowa Boys State Basketball Tournament Friday at Wells Fargo Arena.

That effort was front and center in the game’s first 11 minutes as the Redhawks battled back-and-forth with the Bears (27-1) and led 25-24 after Boerm’s jumper with 4:56 left in the second quarter.

Though a seven-minute dry spell gave way to 16 unanswered points for Danville, which scored the final 12 points of the first half and led 40-25 less than two minutes into the third. Mason Speer (11 points) triggered the rally with a pair of 3s while Steven Soukup (24 points, 17 rebounds) and Michael Soukup (21 points, 10 rebounds) took care of the rest.

“There was just a little bit of a stretch where I think maybe we beat ourselves a little bit,” North Tama coach Brandon Clubb said. “(We were) not getting the shots we wanted, not being as aggressive as we wanted to.”

Dalton Hulme ended the drought with a layup, pulling the Redhawks within 13 at the 5:45 mark of the third, though North Tama never got closer.

Powered by the 1-2 punch of the Soukup brothers, the Bears pulled away by hitting 14-of-26 field goals over the middle two frames, while limiting North Tama to 8-for-28. Danville, the top-scoring unit in all classes (81.9 ppg), shot 53.3 percent for the game and outrebounded the Redhawks 24-12 in the second half.

“They’re not going to miss all their shots,” Clubb said of the two-time defending runners-up. “We knew it was one of those deals where we had to keep putting points up because they’re so hard to stop.”

North Tama shot 22-of-58 (37.9 percent) from the field and Boerm led the Redhawks with 19 points and 13 boards, while Hulme scored 13. The duo represented two of 10 seniors on a squad that earned the school’s first-ever state tournament appearance and victory as well as a single season record for wins (26-3).

“They put a lot of time and effort into this,” Clubb said of his senior group. “One of the things I wanted them to understand is that it paid off. We’re going home with hardware and it is nothing to be ashamed off. The guys never quit and that’s all we can ask.”

Along the with their fourth-place trophy, the Redhawks carry with them the memories and camaraderie of a group that’s bonded together over the last decade.

“We’ve been doing it since third grade and this is it,” Boerm said, who fittingly capped North Tama’s 2012-13 campaign with a breakaway dunk in the final minute. “I think people would envy what we have as a team. If you see our locker room before and after the games, go to our hotel rooms and just hang out with the guys. They’re a great group of guys.”

Notebook

Danville lost the last two state championship games to this year’s finalists – St. Mary’s, Storm Lake (2011) and Boyden-Hull (2012). … The Bears have a combined record of 81-3 over the last three seasons. … Other graduating seniors on North Tama’s squad include Tanner Swanger, Jacob Watson, Brent Billerbeck, Nolan Hefty, Jacob Wrage, Tyler Ebaugh, Skyler Kvidera and Trey Keahna. … The first half featured 10 lead changes as the Redhawks used a 12-5 spurt to lead 25-24 before Danville pulled away with their decisive run.