GLENWOOD, Iowa — The shots weren't falling. Free throws were an adventure. A late 11-point lead evaporated.
Yet when the scrum of a basketball game finally ended, the Treynor boys still emerged celebrating their sweetest victory of the season.
Unrated Council Bluffs St. Albert rallied late to force overtime, but the No. 5 Cardinals scored the next six points to knock off their postseason nemesis 53-47 in an Iowa Class 2-A, District 15 final Tuesday night at Glenwood High School. Freshman Trey Castle (2.7 points per game) led all scorers with 14 points and Trey Robinson posted 10 to go with eight rebounds in the latest chapter of the schools' heated rivalry.
“We look at it as our goal is to be district champs, and our goal was to beat (St. Albert) twice this year,” Treynor coach Scott Rucker said. “We were able to check two goals off tonight. I guess it was a little bit sweeter because of our history with them.”
St. Albert had ended Treynor's season in five of the previous seven years. The Cards' only playoff win in that time was 2011, when they advanced to the state tournament.
This time, the Western Iowa Conference co-champs were the ones earning another game.
“It's one of the greatest feelings ever, actually,” Robinson said. “We're all really happy right now.”
Treynor (22-1) will face No. 7 Carroll Kuemper (19-4) at 7 p.m. Saturday in Harlan in a Substate 8 final with a state berth on the line. Kuemper dispatched co-No. 7 IKM-Manning 62-37 on Tuesday.
St. Albert (12-12) had a chance to win after forcing a turnover with a five-second call and nine seconds left in regulation. But an option play never materialized and Gage Bowman's desperation hook just inside the arc was well off as time expired.
Robinson began the four-minute extra session with a quick putback, followed by a long Castle jumper and Nick Paulsen scoring on his own miss. St. Albert got within 50-47 on a Jake Avey runner and free throw, but the Falcons couldn't shoot over the Treynor defense the rest of the way.
“I'm just glad we were tough enough to win that game and I'm proud of our kids' resilience,” Rucker said. “After blowing that lead in the fourth quarter, to come back the way we did was really a good sign of our character and our toughness.”
Indeed, Treynor appeared to have a comfortable advantage in regulation, up 42-31 with 3:24 left. But Travis Miller canned a 3-pointer, and John McGinn later converted a reverse three-point play with a free throw before putting back his miss on the second attempt.
The Cardinals — who aided the comeback by hitting just 1 of 6 free throws down the stretch — watched as Gage Bowman tied the game on a triple off a pass from Trey Bowman with 72 seconds to play. Neither side scored again in the fourth.
“All of a sudden you look up and it's going to overtime,” Robinson said. “It's just one of those things where you have to bear down after seeing the score and just keep going.”
The 53 points were tied for the second fewest scored by the Cards all year. They slogged through an 18-for-49 shooting night — including 3 of 20 from long range — and were an abysmal 14 for 31 at the charity stripe after not shooting any free throws in the first half.
“We didn't really shoot the ball exceptionally well,” said St. Albert coach Dale Scott, who called for a 2-3 zone much of the night. “Defensively, it was not a problem.”
McGinn paced the Falcons with 10 points, Jackson Scott-Brown had nine and Avey added eight. The Council Bluffs group played overtime without two of its top three scorers in Sam Sneed (9.4 ppg) and McGinn (9.2), both of whom fouled out in the fourth.
Suiting up for their last prep games were starters Avey, McGinn, Sneed and Trey Bowman, along with reserves Nick Golwitzer and Hooch Johnson.
St. Albert, which also lost 63-49 at Treynor on Feb. 1, hit on 18 of 55 attempts (32.7 percent) and was 4 of 21 from deep.
“Free throws, knocking some shots down, layups — all those things add up when you're playing a good team, and we were just a little bit short,” Scott said. “But I'm not disappointed in our heart and our effort whatsoever.”
Robinson said Treynor has nothing to lose when it brings a 20-game winning streak into the substate final against Kuemper. After all, the Cards have now completed all three of their season objectives, including claiming a league title.
Hopefully, he said, a more laid-back approach will lead to a few more made shots against the Hawkeye Ten Conference co-champs.
“All the pressure's finally off of us now — we've met our goals,” Robinson said. “Now the rest of the week we'll practice and prepare and Saturday we can go enjoy.”
CB St. Albert (12-12) ........ 10 5 12 17 3—47
Treynor (22-1) .................. 12 9 8 15 9—53
CBSA: Jake Avey 2-10 3-4 8, Hooch Johnson 0-1 0-0 0, Travis Miller 2-7 0-3 5, John McGinn 4-10 2-4 10, Colton McBride 1-8 1-2 3, Gage Bowman 1-2 0-0 3, Sam Sneed 3-6 0-0 6, Jackson Scott-Brown 4-6 1-5 9, Trey Bowman 1-5 0-0 3. Totals: 18-55 7-18 47.
T: Ben Chapin 0-2 0-1 0, Nick Paulsen 2-10 1-3 5, Jacob Flathers 2-4 0-4 4, Trey Robinson 4-8 4-8 12, Nolan Chapman 3-9 2-4 10, Trey Castle 4-12 6-8 14, Michael Wesley 1-1 0-1 2, Matthew Deitchler 2-3 1-2 6. Totals: 18-49 14-31 53.
3-point goals: CBSA 4-21 (Avey 1-5, Johnson 0-1, Miller 1-6, McGinn 0-1, McBride 0-2, Gage Bowman 1-1, Sneed 0-1, Trey Bowman 1-4), T 3-20 (Chapin 0-2, Paulsen 0-7, Flathers 0-1, Chapman 2-5, Castle 0-4, Deitchler 1-1). Rebounds: CBSA 37 (Scott-Brown 8), T 28 (Robinson 8). Assists: CBSA 5 (Five players one each), T 5 (Chapin, Flathers 2 each). Turnovers: CBSA 15, T 9. Total fouls: CBSA 26, T 18. Fouled out: CBSA, Sneed, McGinn; T, Flathers.