Meskwaki closes out Belle Plaine
Jarius Bear leads Warriors into district finals
REINBECK — Game one of the Class 1A District 7 doubleheader on Tuesday featured an entertaining matchup between the Meskwaki boys basketball team and Belle Plaine, with both teams vying for a spot in the district finals.
Early on it seemed the Plainsmen might take that spot, as Belle Plaine started the game on a 7-2 run, but the Warriors stormed back strong in the first to close out on a 12-2 run and take a 14-9 lead into the second quarter, a lead that would grow into the double digits as Meskwaki walked away the 57-40 victor.
Warriors head coach Garrett Bear said taking the lead early on was important for the win because his guys were able to settle into their game plan and frustrate the Plainsmen scorers.
“That was just a matter of getting the lead, we knew that if we could get a decent lead and play zone, they weren’t going to kill us shooting from the outside,” Bear said. “They had a couple of players who are capable of that, but if we could take away that inside game and leave them on the perimeter we would have a better chance that way.”
Belle Plaine (14-9) had three players averaging in double figures heading into the contest, but Meskwaki (13-8) only allowed leading scorer Garrett Straight reach double figures, and he still finished five points shy of his average with 13.
Bear said his guards did an excellent job of causing problems on the perimeter while the rest of the team shut down the inside lanes.
“It was just matchups, I believed our guards could matchup with their guards pretty well so I thought that would negate a lot,” Bear said. “We would rather take away their guards and worry about one player than take away one player and worry about the other four. It was a matter of what you choose to take away.”
While the Plainsmen struggled to score, the Warriors had three players finish in double figures. Jarius Bear had 17 to lead the way, 15 of which came in the second half, while Taurice Grant had 16 and Taté Bear finished with 11. Taté also had 11 rebounds to complete a playoff double-double.
Jarius said when those three are all putting the ball in the bucket, it makes it hard for teams to defend them.
“We need that, it will make it hard for people to guard us,” Jarius said. “We can draw two and kick it out, then we can all get points.”
Grant was solid scoring throughout, putting in at least two points in every quarter, and coach Bear said having him in the lineup and scoring makes a world of difference for the Warriors.
“He’s a spark plug for us, especially on defense,” he said of the freshman. “He chases that ball around and the part where he is coming back is his jump shot, he’s got to get his comfort back because he did hurt his collarbone and that affects his jump shot a little bit. He’s got to build his confidence back but when he’s on the court and off the court we are two different teams.”
Now that they’ve made it to the district finals, Jarius said maybe teams will take them a little more seriously given what Meskwaki has accomplished.
“We are a little bit underrated, we lost most of our games close and none of them beyond 15,” Jarius said. “We played a lot of ranked teams and those are the only losses we have mostly.”
One team that won’t take them lightly is their finals opponent in Gladbrook-Reinbeck, who has been to four-straight substate finals. Coach Bear said he points to the Rebels as an example for what he wants his boys to achieve, but that doesn’t mean they won’t give G-R their best shot in the district finals on Thursday.
“That is one thing that we preach to our kids even this week, consistency and get to that level. We respect them but we are not going to back down from them,” coach Bear said. “We know what that they have been down to state the last four years, that’s where we want to get and if we want to get there we have to beat them.”
The Rebels and Warriors will meet up in Le Grand on Thursday starting at 7 p.m., with the winner moving on to the substate final.
Meskwaki 57, Belle Plaine 40
BELLE PLAINE (14-9) — Trevin Straight 0 3-4 3, Kobe Grieder 2 0-0 6, Garrett Straight 5 3-9 13, Dylan Fry 4 0-0 9, Caleb Grimes 0 3-4 3, Luke DeMeulenaere 0 0-2 0, Tanner Meeks 0 0-0 0, Ande Winkie 1 0-0 3 , Noah Bachelder 1 0-0 3, Cole Hamilton 0 0-0 0. TOTALS 13 9-19 40.
MESKWAKI (13-8) — Emmett Roberts 2 1-1 6, Taurice Grant 5 6-9 16, Taté Bear 4 2-4 11, Jarius Bear 6 5-5 17, Tiernan Wanatee 1 0-0 2, Evan Nelson 0 1-2 1, Victor Balderas 1 2-3 4. TOTALS 19 17-24 57.
BELLE PLAINE 9 10 9 12 — 40
MESKWAKI 14 9 13 21 — 57
3-Point Goals–BP 5 (Grieder 2, Winkie, Bachelder, Fry), MESK 2 (Roberts, T. Bear). Total Fouls–BP 20, MESK 18. Fouled Out–T. Straight. Technical Fouls–Roberts 2. Ejected–Roberts.