A return trip to the Iowa Boys’ State Basketball Tournament and third place finish capped off a memorable 2019-20 season on the hardwood for the Montezuma Braves.
“Getting the chance to compete at the state tournament again was fantastic,” said Braves Head Basketball Coach Derrick Dengler.
The Braves finished the season with a 25-3 overall record and captured the SICL crown for a second year in a row. On the road to state, the Braves were District 9 and Sub-state 5 champs.
The Braves had two losses in the regular season, both at the hands of 2A teams, Albia, who won 58-55 in overtime, and PCM, who also won in overtime, 53-55.
The first game on the playoff agenda was SICL foe, HLV, who put up a good battle, but Montezuma prevailed, 83-73. Next up was North Mahaska, another SICL foe, with the Braves winning, 67-55.
A tough Keota team was no match for the Braves, who prevailed, 66-48, to win District 9 honors in the Williamsburg High School gym. Trey Shearer led all scorers with 22-points while Cole Watts and Eddie Burgess finished with 13-points each and Brayden Arendt finished with 10-points in the game.
A road trip to Knoxville was next on the agenda to take on Nodaway Valley for the Class 1A Substate 5 game, where the Braves won going away, 58-35. Cole Watts had 26-points and Trey Shearer finished with 15-points in the game.
The No. 4 Braves opened the 2020 Iowa Boys’ State Tournament on Monday, March 9 in a match up with No. 5 rated Martensdale-St Marys in quarterfinal action at Wells Fargo Arena.
The game stayed close in the early going with Montezuma leading at the half, 30-27. The second half was a different story as leading scorer, Trey Shearer, and company shifted into high gear, shutting down MSM with a 25-9 run in the third quarter and a 20-14 run in the fourth quarter to win the game, 75-50.
Trey scored 24-points, including 4 three-pointers, 4 rebounds and 1 steal. Eddie Burgess had a great game, scoring 19-points while nabbing 14 rebounds and 2 blocked shots. Brayden Arendt finished with 13-points, including 2 three-pointers and 3 rebounds. Masin Shearer finished with 10-points, including 2 three-pointers. Cole Watts finished with 5-points and 3 rebounds in the game. Maguire DeJong also saw action, hitting a three-pointer late in the fourth quarter.
In the semi-final game, the Braves took on an aggressive Wapsie Valley Warriors team on Wednesday, March 11. The Warriors had just beaten No. 1 Lake Mills two days earlier and were hungry for more.
The Braves kept battling but never led in the game, falling to the Warriors, 42-57. Trey scored 16-points and had 7 rebounds while Brayden Arendt finished with 12-points and 4 rebounds. Burgess finished with 6-points, 10 rebounds, 1 steal and 1 blocked shot. Masin Shearer and Cole Watts finished with 3-points each and Gavin Strong added 2-points to the total.
The Braves moved on from the loss the day before, taking on No. 6 West Fork in the consolation game, winning 78-72. Trey finished with 27-points, including 4 three-pointers, 4 rebounds, 5 steals and 1 blocked shot. Cole Watts, who had struggled in the two previous games, got his magic back, finishing with 26-points, including 5 three-point shots and 3 rebounds. Burgess wrapped up business with 18-points, including 1 three-pointer, 11 rebounds and 1 blocked shot.
“I was very proud of how the boys competed this season,” said Dengler. “I thought we grew a lot and played well as a team down the stretch. I think that showed particularly on the defensive side of the ball, where we slowed down some really good offensive teams despite being undersized in most games.”
Senior Brayden Arendt, one of two on this year’s team, said his favorite highlight of his career was playing in the sub-state game a year ago and coming back from being down 15 at the half to move on to Wells Fargo for the first time in his career as a Brave.
“My favorite part about playing at state was the electrifying atmosphere,” he said. “Knowing that all your hard work paid off cause you made it to the arena where everyone’s been working to get for years. It means everything to me that I was able to help lead our team to state two years in a row. Just shows our dedication to each other.”
“I thought our entire team had a great year,” noted Junior Trey Shearer. “I think there were lots of people who didn’t expect us to make it back to state and for us to get back to Wells Fargo was amazing. Brayden and Brody were excellent seniors and this group will be remembered for a long time!”