COUNCIL BLUFFS — Harlan missed opportunities to knock off No. 2 Atlantic twice already this season.
It wasn’t going to happen a third time.
The Cyclones (18-6) led the Trojans (22-2) nearly the entire way Monday and closed out a 52-43 win in the Class 3-A Substate 8 final by hitting 14 of 14 free throws in the fourth quarter at Abraham Lincoln High School.
The victory sends unranked Harlan to the state tournament for the 16th time overall and first since 2009. The eighth-seeded Cyclones will face No. 1 Vinton-Shellsburg (24-0) in the 3-A quarterfinals at 3:45 p.m. on March 5 at Wells Fargo Arena in Des Moines.
It will be the 17th time Harlan’s Mitch Osborn has taken a team to the tourney — the most of any boys coach in the history of Iowa prep basketball. He had shared the state-best mark of 16 with former Davenport coach Paul Moon and former Cedar Rapids Xavier coach Dick Breitbach.
Osborn’s latest qualifier snapped a 19-game winning streak by the Trojans to get there. The Cyclones had led Atlantic late in 43-41 and 55-52 losses in the regular season before holding on Monday.
“We were a possession away in both games,” Osborn said. “I told our guys, ‘We’ve just got to finish the game.’ We knew they’d make a run in the second half. It was a tough defensive game.”
Atlantic led only briefly in the third meeting. The Trojans scored the first four points of the game and had a 5-2 advantage in the first quarter. Their only other lead came, briefly, at 29-28 in the third.
Harlan held the Trojans to 29 percent shooting (18 of 63) while shooting 53 percent (17 of 32) from the floor itself. Atlantic got nearly twice as many shots by forcing 19 turnovers and grabbing 15 offensive rebounds. Not many of them, however, turned into second-chance points.
“We didn’t get to the free-throw line and we were missing bunnies,” Atlantic coach Steve Blazek said. “We had some chances and some second chances. It was a very physical basketball game, and we got out-physicaled.”
Trey Lansman scored six of his game-high 16 points early in the second quarter as the Cyclones built an eight-point cushion. Atlantic cut it to three late in the period before Harlan’s Nate Cave beat the halftime buzzer with a putback off the glass to make it 23-18.
The Trojans used a 7-0 run in the third to tie the score at 27. A Harrison Hoegh basket with 2:21 left in the third put the Trojans up 29-28. It was their lone lead in the second half.
Gabe Ferry’s baseline jumper moved Harlan in front to stay. The Cyclones went 4 for 5 from the floor in the fourth while hitting all of their free throws to seal their upset victory.
“It was crazy,” Cave said. “I don’t even know what was going through my mind. We finally finished out a game versus them. It’s just the best feeling in the world.”
Harlan entered the game shooting just 63 percent from the foul line.
Osborn praised the defensive play of Nate Kloewer, who held Atlantic’s leading scorer, Dalton Franken, to two points through three quarters. Franken, who averages 16.3 points, had the opening basket and then didn’t score again until only 5:57 remained. He finished with 10 points.
Lansman had eight defensive rebounds and blocked four shots for the Cyclones.
“They’re really fast and athletic. We just had to play good defense,” Lansman said. “We just had to keep working hard. After the last halftimes, we kind of let up a bit. This time, we got it done.”
Before Monday, Atlantic hadn’t lost a game since Dec. 7. Its four senior starters — Sam Markham, Chad Christensen, Harrison Hoegh and Franken — claimed back-to-back Hawkeye Ten Conference titles before their prep careers came to an end.
“They won a lot of basketball games in the last three years,” Blazek said. “They have done a lot for Atlantic basketball in the last four years. And they’re a class act. A great group of kids.”
Harlan (18-6) ................. 11 12 7 22—52
Atlantic (22-2) ................. 7 1111 14—43
H: A. Juhl 2-8 6-6 10, Kloewer 1-3 0-0 2, Ferry 3-4 4-4 10, Lansman 6-10 4-4 16, Cave 4-4 3-5 12, Daeges 1-1 0-0 2, K. Juhl 0-2 0-0 0. Totals 17-32 17-19 52.
A: Markham 5-14 0-2 10, Christensen 3-13 2-2 10, S. Hoegh 1-6 3-4 5, Franken 5-15 0-0 10, H. Hoegh 4-14 0-0 8, Nelson 0-1 0-0 0. Totals 18-63 5-8 43.
3-point goals: H 1-6 (Cave 1-1, A. Juhl 0-4, K. Juhl 0-1), A 2-12 (Christensen 2-6, Markham 0-2, S. Hoegh 0-3, Franken 0-1). Rebounds: H 31 (Lansman 8), A 29 (H. Hoegh 8). Assists: H 8 (Kloewer 4), A 5 (S. Hoegh, H. Hoegh 2). Turnovers: H 19, A 5. Total fouls: H 9, A 16. Fouled out: Markham.