IOWA BOYS STATE BASKETBALL

Western Christian wins seventh state title

2014-03-15T00:00:00Z 2014-03-15T00:16:05Z Western Christian wins seventh state titleTERRY HERSOM thersom@siouxcityjournal.com Sioux City Journal

DES MOINES | It never gets old, this state championship habit they have at Hull Western Christian.

And, much as he’d tell you otherwise, neither does Jim Eekhoff, who has now won as many state titles as any coach in Iowa boys basketball history.

Friday night, after a 48-38 victory over West Fork of Sheffield in the Class 2A state final, Western scooped up its seventh state crown in boys hoops, all during the 32 seasons that have seen Eekhoff bring 16 teams to the state tournament.

That enabled Eekhoff to join Paul Moon, the coach at old Davenport High School, for the championship record.

“Bud Legg (from the Iowa High School Athletic Association) just said to me, ‘Well, Paul Moon’s got a roommate now,’ ‘’ chirped Eekhoff, joyfully savoring the moment. “I said, ‘Geez, I hope he doesn’t have a roommate too quick. He’s been dead quite awhile.’ ‘’

Despite a little gray in the temples, the 63-year-old Eekhoff could probably pass for 43. And, even though he hedged a little about his future, he also said it would be difficult to walk away from all the young talent in his program right now.

“Coaches ask me, ‘What’s the greatest thing about winning a state championship,’ ’’ he said. “I tell ‘em from the day you win it until the first day of practice the next season, you wake up with a smile on your face. It would be nice to wake up that way all the time.’’

The smile may be a little bigger this offseason because championship No. 7 also marked the very first undefeated season for Western, capping off a perfect 27-0 campaign.

And, the Wolfpack got it done even though senior guard Kyle Fopma, the Wolfpack scoring leader who managed to play in his team’s first two games with a brace on an injured knee, was unavailable after further damaging the knee in Thursday’s semifinal win over Cascade.

Western’s offensive options were a little more limited without Fopma’s perimeter shooting. So, they leaned a little more heavily on the inside duo of 6-7 senior Taylor Feenstra and 6-6 sophomore Josh Van Lingen, looking for sophomore guard Taylor Miedema to provide some complementary support from three-point range.

Feenstra and Van Lingen came through with 15 of Western’s 19 field goals, accounting for 32 of the team’s 48 points. However, it was a frustrating night for Miedema, just 2-for-16 from the field with eight points.

“We certainly didn’t play a great game by any stretch of the imagination,’’ said Eekhoff, whose team held a modest 22-18 lead after a deliberate first half. “We turned the ball over too much (15 times to West Fork’s 14) and Miedema had the worst shooting night he’ll probably ever have.’’

Feenstra, the all-tournament captain, totaled 20 points and 13 rebounds while Van Lingen had 12 and 11.

“Taylor Feenstra’s earned it,’’ said Eekhoff. “I get to school at 6:15 every morning and for the last three years he beats me there every day. I hear the ball bouncing when I walk in the building. He’s in there every single day without fail.’’

“I live right in Hull, a couple blocks from the gym,’’ said Feenstra, who is headed for Dordt College along with Fopma. “I’ve been there every morning just for this, to have this chance. It’s all paid off. It’s unbelievable.’’

This was actually Eekhoff’s mulligan in his quest to equal Moon’s record. After leading his teams to victories in the school’s first six championship game appearances, the sixth winningest coach on the all-time Iowa boys basketball list, had to settle for a runner-up trophy after an overtime loss to another West Fork team three years ago.

West Fork, the runner-up last year to Sheldon, trailed 36-22 early in the fourth quarter and it was still a 41-28 margin with an even five minutes to play. Still, the Warhawks made a run to pull within 42-38 with 1:35 to play.

“We needed some kids to hit some shots the last two minutes of the game,’’ said West Fork Coach Frank Schnoes, a senior starter in 1970 when Paullina finished off a state title three-peat. “We just didn’t get it to go in.’’

Sam Amsbaugh, a 6-5 senior averaging over 19 points, was limited to 12 points by a Western Christian box-and-one defense intent on limiting his touches. Spencer Halloran added nine points and Hunter Myers eight for a No. 3-rated team that finished 25-2, avenging its only previous loss in a substate final win over No. 2-ranked New Hampton.

Following up the third straight state title won by the Western Christian girls here last week, the school joins Winfield-Mount Union (1995), Iowa City High (2008), Sioux City Heelan (2010) and Iowa City West (2012) as the fifth to pull off a boy-girl basketball championship double.

Eekhoff, also Western’s athletic director, has actually lost count of the school’s state championships, but he believes this one marks the 32nd overall. Western has won titles in volleyball 11 times and has also had champions in girls track, boys cross country and soccer.

“In fact, this is my eighth state championship,’’ said Eekhoff, unable to contain a chuckle. “I was the head coach of one of our cross country championship teams (1981).’’

West Fork (38)

Min FG A FT A Reb Ast PF TP

Hunter Myers 27 3 4 1 2 2 3 3 8

Spencer Halloran 29 3 15 1 2 3 1 4 9

Sam Amsbaugh 32 4 7 4 4 10 0 4 12

Drew Engebretson 26 0 7 0 0 1 2 2 0

Evan Sprung 32 2 5 2 2 5 0 4 6

Zach Greimann 0 0 1 0 0 0 0 0 0

Austin Neff 9 1 3 0 0 0 0 0 3

Tanner Tuttle 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0

Markus Wogen 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0

Cody Wegner 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0

Jacob Kuhlmeier 5 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0

Team 3

Totals 160 13 42 8 10 24 6 17 38

Western Christian (48)

Min FG A FT A Reb Ast PF TP

Taylor Miedema 31 2 16 2 2 2 3 0 8

Adam Heynen 17 1 1 2 2 2 2 1 4

Jeffrey Granstra 18 1 1 0 0 1 4 3 2

Josh Van Lingen 28 6 10 0 0 11 0 3 12

Taylor Feenstra 32 9 16 2 3 13 1 3 20

Joey Horstman 29 0 3 2 3 4 1 2 2

Ben Gesink 1 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0

Jordan Folkerts 4 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0

Team 2

Totals 160 19 47 8 10 35 11 12 48

Score by quarters:

West Fork 11 7 4 16 - 38

Western Christian 11 11 12 14 - 48

3-point goals – West Fork 4-20 (Myers 1-1, Halloran 2-9, Engebretson 0-6, Greimann 0-1, Neff 1-3), Western Christian 2-18 (Miedema 2-13, Feenstra 0-2, Horstman 0-3).

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