Men’s Basketball State Run

For the second year in a row, the men’s basketball team came up just short in the championship.

Nathan Anderson, Sports Editor

For the second year in a row, Johnston’s men’s basketball team came in second place against the best competition Iowa has to offer. After winning two straight close games to get to the championship, they lost 68-37 against a talented Ames team that could do no wrong on the court. Despite ending the season on the wrong note, the team undeniably had a great season highlighted by a 21-4 record, including the postseason. ¬†Trey Lewis ’22 finished fourth in the state in points scored (478), assists (110), and three pointers made (56) in the 4A division while Steven Kramer ’22 finished fifth in the state in defensive rebounds (141). From a wider perspective, the team as a whole also led the state in three pointers made (208), three point percentage (41%), effective field goal percentage (58.6%), and defensive rebounds (588) while also landing at second in the state in total rebounds (809).

After a substate victory over Dowling Catholic to seal a trip to the state tournament, Johnston faced a tough Ankeny team that gave our boys all they could handle in a 55-53 win. Higher-seeded Johnston came out on top by a mere two points in a game that was back and forth until the final buzzer. Kramer’s 19 points went a long way, as did the 18 from lewis in a game where Johnston shot uncharacteristically poorly. For a team that shot the ball better than anyone in the state from beyond the arc throughout the season, it said a lot that they could still find a way to win and break the small-ball mold. Kramer played hurt into a double-double with ten rebounds as well, and Samuel Tornabane ’23 contributed on the defensive end with seven(!!) blocks. Coach Brian Frick commented on his team’s toughness. “We’ve seen that a lot through many of our games, coming from behind and playing close games… we got a tough group of kids that are hungry and they didn’t want to be done today. I’m proud of them… we’re going to enjoy this tonight and get ready to go for tomorrow.”

Following a close, nerve wracking win over Ankeny, Johnston headed into a matchup against Cedar Rapids Prairie (pictures above). Earlier in the season, Prairie had handed Johnston one of only three regular season losses, 64-61, back in December. Fans were gifted to bonus basketball when Masen Ryan ’22 hit a clutch three pointer to tie the game at 47 in a game that was even closer and nerve-wracking-er than the last, ending in a 61-57 hard-fought win. Ryan had an extremely efficient 18, shooting 5/6 from three in another low-scoring game. In the fifth quarter, both teams hit threes before Lewis took over and iced the game with five straight points. Lewis also had 17 points and five assists, Tornabane finished third on the team with 15. Kramer was noticeably hobbled by an injury suffered in the quarterfinal game against Ankeny, but played through it and helped the team nonetheless. Ryan commented on his big night. “I needed to step up for my teammates, Steven’s been hurt… had to step it up.” When asked about his clutch shots, he responded: “Just make it or go home.” Lewis, despite another (relatively) cold night from three, found ways to create. “My shot wasn’t falling, so I had to attack the rim and create for my teammates, help them get open shots and they knocked them down… you have to keep persevering, keep attacking… and I think I did that tonight.” Lewis also wasn’t fazed by tough competition. “…we were gonna win the game. Overtime, that’s what the extra reps and conditioning is for. We showed a lot of resilience in that overtime period.”

In the championship, things did not go Johnston’s way. A 31 point loss to top-seeded Ames was not the way anyone wanted this season to end. ISU commit Tamin Lipsey dropped a triple-double, and Johnston got out rebounded 29-14 by a team who also shot 67% from three. Trey Lewis did score 15, but was the only Dragon in double figures. A disappointing end to a great season, but a great season nonetheless. For two of this team’s star seniors, their playing careers will continue in the NCAA. Steven Kramer has signed to play for the University of South Dakota, and Trey Lewis has committed to play for Drury University in Missouri. For coach Frick, that makes two championship appearances in three seasons as a head coach. It seems inevitable that one trip will end in a title in the near future.