Warrior boys overcome struggles to win in overtime

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Vaughn Zittergruen drives between Postville defenders in Central’s 54-29 loss. He scored five points. (Photos by Bev Hamann)

Jake Hertrampf jumps for the opening tip-off in Central’s overtime victory against Clayton Ridge.

By Willis Patenaude, Times-Register


The Central boys basketball team had a pair of Upper Iowa Conference games last week, starting with a home match-up versus Clayton Ridge, with both teams looking for their second win of the season. 


The game started slowly for the Warriors, who fell behind in the first quarter, before rallying to tie the score in the second quarter. But this period mimicked the first, as the Warriors struggled offensively, rushing shots and committing too many turnovers, giving the Eagles a 19-10 halftime lead. 


The offensive struggles stretched into the third quarter and early into the fourth, while the defense started to clamp down, allowing fewer rebounds and giving the offense the chance to pull within five points as the game entered the fourth quarter. 


The fourth period started like the others, with the Eagles hitting a few early shots and extending the lead to 29-21 with less than six minutes to go. However, Central once again rallied, going on an 8-0 run to close out the game on the strength of timely rebounds and defense. 


With under a minute to play, Isaac Loan secured a rebound and took the ball the length of the court to score on a contested layup and draw within three points with under a minute left. During the Eagles’ next possession, Owen Hammersland forced a turnover with about 15 seconds remaining and drove the ball to the Warriors’ half of the court. He hit a wide-open Jake Hertrampf, who caught the pass from behind the three-point arc and drained a game-tying three pointer with eight seconds left, forcing overtime. 


In overtime, the Warriors continued to apply defensive pressure, holding the Eagles scoreless, while putting up three points. They hung on for the 32-29 victory, overcoming 27 turnovers and shooting 30 percent from the floor.


“Our guys once again showed great resilience in this game, never giving up no matter how much we struggled to score at times,” said coach Brady Stramer.


Loan led the team with 15 points, while adding seven rebounds and three steals. Hertrampf led the Warriors with eight rebounds, and had six points and two assists. Hammersland led in assists, with three, and steals, with six, while scoring nine points and collecting six rebounds. 


The Central defense forced 23 turnovers, including 14 steals, as well as two blocks, while holding the Eagles to 23 percent shooting. 


In the second game of the week, the Warriors got off to a decent start against visiting Postville, as they kept pace with the seven-win Pirates in a back-and-forth first half. A 7-0 run by the Pirates toward the end of the second quarter put the Warriors down 27-19 at halftime. 


After halftime, it was downhill for the Warriors, who struggled on both ends of the court, giving up 21 points to the Pirates in the third quarter. They were held without a basket in the fourth, as Postville left Elkader with a 54-29 victory. 


“We did a solid job in terms of taking care of the basketball on the offensive end. Unfortunately, we just couldn’t convert some open looks at the basket, which resulted in us only shooting 28 percent from the field and 14 percent from three-point range. We also took a step back in the area of defensive rebounding, giving Postville far too many second chance points,” Stramer said. 


Leading the Warriors in scoring was Hertrampf, who put up 10 points along with nine rebounds and two assists. Loan scored seven points and had two rebounds, two assists and one steal, while Vaughn Zittergruen added five points, three rebounds and two assists. Carson Ruegnitz put up four points and Hammersland added three points, three rebounds, two assists and three steals. 


“Our guys have continued to show improvement throughout the season, but we have yet to put a complete 32 minutes together. We will look to be more consistent on offense specifically, and try to put together a complete 32 minutes as we compete next week,” Stramer said. 


Now 2-5, Central has a three-game schedule this week, starting Dec. 18 versus Edgewood-Colesburg. The Warriors are on the road Dec. 19, at Turkey Valley, then will end the week back home against North Fayette Valley on Dec. 22.

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