COUNCIL BLUFFS — The pace seemed uncomfortable. Shots weren’t falling. Frustration boiled over into three technical fouls.
Despite it all, the Atlantic boys basketball team still won handily — even if the process was tough to watch.
The Iowa Class 3-A No. 4 Trojans overcame an off night, gutting out a 46-32 road victory over Council Bluffs Lewis Central on Friday to extend their winning streak to 14 games. Senior guard Chad Christensen netted a game-high 17 points and a pair of teammates joined him in double figures in the schools’ second meeting in less than two weeks.
“It was hard to get any rhythm, hard to play,” Atlantic coach Steve Blazek said. “It wasn’t basketball. That was not pretty.”
Much of that had to do with the Titans intentionally slowing down each possession. After trying to simply outscore Atlantic in the first encounter — losing 69-41 on Jan. 19 — Lewis Central came back with a whole new approach.
Though L.C. never led and opened the contest down 8-0, it also hung around most of the night. An Alex Reed layup cut Atlantic’s lead to 39-29 with 1:14 to play before the visitors pulled away for good.
“(The Trojans) are obviously very, very talented and have a lot of experienced guys,” L.C. coach Dan Miller said. “If we tried to run up and down the court and shoot fast, we would have had no chance to win the game. We had to play that way to give ourselves the best chance to win, and I thought the kids did a good job of it.”
Atlantic (17-1, 10-1 Hawkeye Ten Conference) hit three 3-pointers in the opening frame to jump out to a 23-10 lead. But it cooled considerably from there, making one the rest of the way while shooting 13 for 36 (36 percent) overall.
Stuart Hoegh scored 11 points for the victors, and Dalton Franken had 10 to go with 10 boards.
The Trojans became so aggravated by L.C.’s grinding style of play that they picked up a trio of technical fouls in the second half despite leading by double digits.
“I thought we guarded pretty well and did a pretty good job on Reed for the most part,” Blazek said. “I’m a little frustrated with my guys with the way they lost their composure. That’s what we discussed in the locker room after the game.
“But if you want to win a conference championship, you don’t want to let any slip away.”
Atlantic can wrap up a second straight outright Hawk-10 title with a win at Denison-Schleswig on Tuesday and a home victory over 3-A No. 5 Creston on Feb. 8.
Lewis Central (5-12, 4-7) got 15 points and a team-high five rebounds from Reed, while Cody Cook and Lincoln Rodenburg each added six. But the Titans were also out of sync from the opening tip, prompting Miller to call a timeout just 88 seconds in to clarify a play.
Atlantic (17-1, 10-1) ................. 13 10 11 12—46
At CB Lewis Central (5-12, 4-7) ................. 4 6 11 11—32
A: Sam Markham 0-5 3-5 3, Chad Christensen 5-8 4-7 17, Ben Nelson 1-1 3-4 5, Stuart Hoegh 3-9 4-5 11, Dalton Franken 4-12 2-4 10, Jared Fulk 0-1 0-1 0, Harrison Hoegh 0-0 0-0 0. Totals: 13-36 16-26 46.
LC: Lincoln Rodenburg 3-6 0-1 6, Cody Cook 2-6 1-2 6, Toby Korner 0-1 0-0 0, Alex Reed 3-11 6-14 15, Kyle Larson 1-4 0-0 2, Mitch Brinkman 0-0 0-0 0, Tony Rew 0-4 0-0 0, JB Baker 1-1 1-2 3, Tanner Mathews 0-1 0-0 0. Totals: 10-34 8-19 32.
3-point field goals: A 4-13 (Markham 0-4, Christensen 3-5, Hoegh 1-3, Franken 0-1), LC 2-9 (Cook 1-5, Reed 1-4). Rebounds: A 26 (Franken 10), LC 25 (Reed 5). Turnovers: A 7, LC 17. Technical fouls: Atlantic: Franken, Harrison Hoegh, Ben Nelson. Total fouls: A 18, LC 21. Fouled out: LC: Cody Cook. Atlantic: Franken.