DES MOINES — As the final seconds ticked off the clock Monday night, the Camanche student section began chanting “No school Thursday. No school Thursday.”
The Camanche boys basketball team is in the state semifinals for the first time since 1985.
Freshman Cameron Soenksen and senior Dylan Hundley each recorded double-doubles as the sixth-ranked Indians avenged two regular-season defeats to Cascade with a 58-48 triumph in a Class 2A quarterfinal at Wells Fargo Arena.
“I can guarantee you nobody will be going to school,” Soenksen said. “The town and students want this just as much as we do.”
Camanche (23-2) plays top-ranked and defending state champion Western Christian (22-2) at 2 p.m. Thursday. The Wolfpack rallied from 16 points down in the second quarter to upend South Hamilton on Monday night, 53-47.
The Indians have leaned heavily on the 3-point shot this season, averaging more than nine makes per game.
Even though Camanche was 3 of 18 from beyond the arc in the game, it made a concerted effort to attack the rim against Cascade’s 2-3 zone defense.
Coach Josh Davis’ club finished with a 28-12 advantage in points in the paint.
“The first two games against them, I thought we settled for threes too much,” Hundley said. “Obviously, that didn’t work. Coach really emphasized driving the ball to the paint. If we found open shooters, kick it out. If not, attack the middle, and that worked.”
Camanche misfired on its first nine 3-point tries. It did make three in the final 3 minutes of the third quarter to build a 39-34 lead.
No. 3 Cascade, last year’s state runner-up, responded.
Johnny Supple, who led all scorers with 22 points, knocked down a trifecta to even the game with 4 minutes, 23 seconds left.
Then, the Indians tallied the next 10 points.
Dakota Soenksen scored on a drive to the basket. Cameron Soenksen came up with one of his four steals and converted a three-point play on the other end.
“All week, we just worked on driving to the basket from different spots in the zone,” Davis said. “With a big environment like this, free throws and layups usually win these games. That was our emphasis.”
Cascade, meanwhile, made only one field goal in the final 4:23. It was 5 of 26 from the arc and 9 of 16 at the foul line.
“They were simply the better team tonight,” Cascade coach Jacob Brindle said. “They were a step (quicker), a step more intense and made a couple more shots.”
Camanche was aggressive on the glass. It collected 12 offensive rebounds and finished with a 40-33 edge.
Six-foot guard Cameron Soenksen, who had a team-high 17 points, pulled down a career-high 11 rebounds.
“Normally, I’m the man who tries to leak out and get the open three,” Cameron said. “We really talked about getting to the boards, crashing as hard as I could on both ends.”
Cameron made only 5 of 18 tries from the field. He admitted afterward several of those attempts were not wise shots, well beyond 25 feet of the basket.
Still, he atoned for it with his rebounding and defense.
“His care-free attitude and allowing him to be himself is helping him thrive,” Davis said. “You’ve just got to let him be him.”
Hundley was in awe of the fearless approach the freshman displayed on a big stage.
“I’ve never seen anything like it,” said Hundley, who had 13 points and 10 rebounds. “Stepping up to the table in the state tournament against a team like that, who is used to this atmosphere, he was amazing.”
Junior point guard Dev Patel also finished in double figures for Camanche with 13 points and six rebounds.
The Indians lost to Western Christian in the state championship in 1985. Davis has heard from several players during that era about getting redemption this week.
Camanche has its chance.
“The support and messages of positivity have been outstanding,” Davis said. “I’m not sure how many people were in Camanche tonight.”
Don’t expect any in school Thursday.