Jan 28, 2023 6:25 PM

WB's boys team tops New London to go to 17-0; girls roll past Tigers

Posted Jan 28, 2023 6:25 PM

Above: New London High School's Rylan Martin (2) fouls West Burlington's Mason Watkins, with both players taking flight in a varsity boys basketball game at New London's Charles Lorber Gymnasium Friday night. New London's Leo Gebauer is behind Watkins. West Burlington beat New London 62-55 and finished unbeaten in the South Division at 13-0. Photo/Chris Faulkner

By Chris Faulkner

West Burlington High School's fifth-ranked (Class 2A) boys basketball team kept its unbeaten streak alive at 17 after holding back New London 62-55 Friday at Charles Lorber Gymnasium.

It was a different kind of night for the Falcons, who saw Parker Lau make just one 3-pointer and Brady Martin zero. But post-player Hayden Vandenberg, known mostly for his defense, picked up the slack with 12 points, seven of which came in the first quarter.

Blaise Porter racked up 34 points, including 14 in the final quarter. But the Tigers were playing without 6-7 senior Kade Benjamin, who is sidelined with a knee injury.

The victory gives West Burlington the South Division title at 13-0 and sets up a showdown with No. 3 (Class 1A) WACO Saturday, Feb. 4, in the championship game of the Southeast Iowa Superconference Tournament. That will be played at Southeastern Community College's Loren Walker Arena.

Also Friday night, West Burlington won the girls game handily 74-36 over winless New London. The Falcons improve to 12-5 overall, 10-3 in the South.

West Burlington's teams play home to Danville next Tuesday.

In the West Burlington-New London boys game, both teams struggled in different areas.

The Falcons shot just 6 of 18 in the first quarter, and Brady Martin picked up two fouls early in the game. He would foul out with 3:34 left in the game and finish with just six points.

New London, meanwhile, made five first-quarter turnovers. But four 3-pointers — two by Rylan Martin and two by Porter — helped keep the game tied 14-14 after one.

It was a back-and-forth game in the second quarter, and West Burlington led 30-28 at halftime.

Turnovers still plagued the Tigers while West Burlington, without any full-court pressure by New London, had just one turnover through the first three quarters. They would commit five in the fourth quarter, including two charging calls.

Mason Watkins, who would lead the Falcons with 20 points, picked up the scoring pace and put the visitors up 45-35 with 3:10 left in the third quarter. But Porter scored, and Rylan Martin hit a 3 to cut the lead to 45-40 heading into the fourth quarter.

New London's Leo Gebauer scored on the first possession of the quarter to make it 45-42. But the Tigers never got any closer.

Six Falcons scored in the final period, and Porter missed four 3-pointers in trying to make up ground quickly for the Tigers.

New London was forced to foul in the closing 1:16, and West Burlington only made 4 of 9 in that stretch. But the Tigers couldn't capitalize.

West Burlington coach Ryan O'Hern first offered praise for Porter, who is headed for Truman State this fall. Truman State is coached by University of Iowa standout Jeff Horner, who O'Hern grew up playing basketball with.

“(It was) a phenenomal and special performance tonight by Blaise Porter with Benjamin out,” O'Hern said.

“He carried the team. He made tough shot after shot after shot.”

But O'Hern also saw the Tiger standout from a different perspective.

“The cool thing for me is just being able to take some time during the game just to be a fan,” he said.

“I got a second-grade son sitting in the first row, and for him to see that kind of game tonight, it makes you want to practice and getting better.”

O'Hern said New London's role players kept them in the game.

“We battled some adversity with foul trouble, but we were able to grind out, getting some stops.”

He said Watkins hit some big shots in the game.

But another player drew the biggest praise from Coach O'Hern.

He said Vandenberg “is a competitive young man in every sport he plays. He had the best game of his career and couldn't be more proud of him.

“He needs to continue to give us that kind of effort with the rebounding and finishing under the basket. He was tremendous,” O'Hern said.

Lau finished with nine points for the Falcons, Jace Figuereo had eight, Aiden Figuereo seven, and Martin had six.

Jace Figuereo had eight rebounds.

Rylan Martin hit just two more 3s after the first quarter and scored 12. Brendan Richey had seven and Gebauer two as the Tigers had just four players score.

Porter finished with 13 rebounds and Memphis Watson, Gebauer, and Richey all grabbed seven.

Above: West Burlington's Isabella Blaufuss (2) goes up for an uncontested layup while teammate Taryn Havener (14) blocks out a New London defender in Friday's varsity girls' basketball game at Charles Lorber Gymnasium. The Falcons beat the Tigers 74-36. Photo/Chris Faulkner

Falcons win girls' game

In the girls' game, West Burlington led 35-21 at halftime and then outscored the Tigers 20-2 until the final minute when No. 32 scored, and then Emma Nye banked in a half-court buzzer-beater.

Abbey Bence paced the Falcons with 31 points. Taryn Havener scored 18, and Isabella Blaufuss had a good night with 14.

Isabella Callison added six points, Isabelle Ritter four, and Taryn Snodgrass one.

Mylee Miller led New London with 16 points.

Nye scored eight points, and Natalie Burden had six points.

The Falcons are third in the conference. No. 13 (2A) Mediapolis defeated No. 11 (1A) Burlington Notre Dame 53-44 Friday to take first place, with the Nikes second.