COUNCIL BLUFFS — There was no defensive tweak or rotation change. No rah-rah speech was necessary.
Down 20 at halftime, Glenwood didn’t do any scheming at all. Sometimes it’s as simple as putting the ball through the rim.
A 4-for-29 first half netted a dozen points for one of Iowa Class 3-A’s highest-scoring teams. But the sixth-rated Rams took off from there, collecting 51 after intermission and taking their first lead in the final two minutes as they rallied past No. 9 Atlantic 63-61 in a district final Thursday night.
“Our kids have heart,” Glenwood coach Curt Schulte said. “They fight, they got grit and at halftime there was no doubt in their minds they were going to come back and win this game. They knew shooting like 4 for 32 in the first half, that’s not Ram basketball. We knew the shots were going to get going.”
Specifically, sophomores Nate Mohr and Andrew Blum found a rhythm. Each ended with 21 points, and they combined for 32 in the final 16 minutes on a series of 3-pointers and drives.
Mohr missed 13 of his first 17 attempts from the field before his trey from the wing put the Rams in front for the first time, 56-55, with 1:59 to go. He added a teardrop from the baseline on the next possession, and Glenwood hit 5 of 6 free throws from there to seal its third straight district title in a front of a rowdy and bipartisan crowd.
Atlantic managed a putback with two ticks left to account for the one-possession final result.
“I was shooting good in warmups so I had a lot of confidence coming in,” Mohr said. “For it to go the way it did was frustrating, but it’s not a problem for me to keep shooting. We have a lot of heart on this team, a lot of seniors that don’t like to lose.”
Glenwood (19-4) advances to face unrated Perry (14-9) in the Substate 8 final Monday at 7 p.m. in Atlantic. The Rams ended a 63-year drought by reaching the state tournament last season.
“We’ve played a lot of ball,” Blum said. “We know what we’re capable of and have a lot of fans on our side rooting for us. We couldn’t give up tonight because they were here — we just had to keep fighting.”
Blum opened the second half with a 3, and his squad ran off 14 unanswered points a short time later to draw within 34-29. They scored nine straight early in the fourth quarter — highlighted by a Blum layup and a conventional three-point play — to tie it at 47 with five minutes left. But they didn’t go up until Mohr’s deep ball late.
Seniors Connor Weis (nine points) and Kobe Rhodes (eight) also had hands in the surge for a team averaging more than 72 points per game this winter.
The finish was in stunning contrast to the first half, when the Trojans’ man defense performed exceptionally well and five players connected on a 3.
Atlantic senior Ryan Hawkins posted a game-high 25 points, while fellow classmates and starters Brendan Holmes (five points) and Kyle Nelson (two) also contributed in their final prep contest. Junior Garrett Franken (12) and sophomore Scott Leonard (11) also recorded double figures.
Atlantic (18-5) ...................... 17 15 9 20—61
Glenwood (19-4) .................. 5 7 21 30—63
A: Brendan Holmes 2-5 0-2 5, Austin Alexander 1-4 0-0 3, Ryan Hawakins 9-15 6-9 25, Kyle Nelson 1-3 0-0 2, Garrett Franken 5-11 1-3 12, Grant Podhajsky 1-3 0-0 3, Scott Leonard 5-6 1-2 11. Totals: 24-47 8-16 61.
G: Nate Mohr 6-19 6-6 21, Drake Harrington 0-0 0-0 0, Andrew Blum 7-19 5-5 21, Carter VonEssen 0-2 0-0 0, Kobe Rhodes 2-2 2-2 8, Aaron Bertini 1-1 0-0 2, Christian Stanislav 0-5 2-2 2, Talon Stromgren 0-1 0-0 0, Connor Weis 4-5 1-2 9. Totals: 20-54 16-17 63.
3-point goals: A 5-14 (Holmes 1-2, Alexander 1-3, Hawkins 1-3, Nelson 0-1, Franken 1-2, Podhajsky 1-3), G 7-24 (Mohr 3-14, Blum 2-6, VonEssen 0-1, Rhodes 2-2, Stanislav 0-1). Total fouls: A 16, G 16. Fouled out: G, VonEssen. Technical fouls: none. Rebounds: A 30 (Hawkins 14), G 28 (Blum 9). Assists: A 9 (Hawkins 3), G 8 (Mohr 4). Turnovers: A 12, G 10.