By Andy Krutsinger, Mt. Pleasant News
MEDIAPOLIS ? It won?t be back-to-back state trips for the New London basketball team. The Tigers were stunned by a comeback from Iowa Mennonite in Thursday night?s district final, falling 61-54.
Much like in their SEISC shootout victory over IMS earlier this month, New London came out of the gates swinging. The Tigers outscored IMS 19-6 in the first period. The rest of the night, however, would look much different, with the Tigers never winning another quarter.
IMS nearly flipped the script on the Tigers in the second quarter, going on a 14-3 run to start the period. New London was able to steal a little momentum back with a three-pointer at the halftime buzzer, but the Tiger lead was down to five, at 25-20, going into the break.
The two teams played each other evenly in the third quarter, leaving a five-point advantage for the Tigers. After three quarters, New London led 38-33.
Then, it all came crashing down. IMS got red hot in the fourth quarter, sinking shot after shot from inside the three-point line to finally take the lead.
New London scoerd 16 points of their own during the fourth period, their second-highest total of the night, but IMS nearly doubled their score in the final eight minutes, going off for 28 fourth-quarter points to stun the Tigers.
Senior big man Mitchell Schmieder led the way for IMS in the second half. He scored 12 points in the final two quarters to end the night with 20, after scoring just eight against the Tigers when they met in the shootout game.
The Tigers were led by one of their seniors. Alex Dentlinger scored 16 points in the loss to lead the way in his last game in a New London uniform. Mason Porter added 14 points and both Isaac McSorley and Grant Swanson scored 10 to give the Tigers four players in double digits. Keontae Luckett had four points in the loss and Jalen Birdsell added one.
IMS will move on to Oskaloosa on Saturday, February 24, where they will play either Lynnville-Sully or Montezuma for a shot at the state tournament.
New London, which came off its first state tournament berth ever in 2017, finished the 2017-18 season 19-5. The Tigers will still be one of the state favorites next year. They return four starters: McSorley, Luckett, Swanson and Porter, who missed most of his junior year with a serious finger injury.