CAMANCHE, Iowa — In their first meeting this year, Camanche saw a comfortable lead dwindle in the fourth quarter and turn into a loss against rival Northeast.
It was something they've worked to rectify in the last month-and-a-half.
"Northeast has always been one of our biggest games, one of the funnest games to play against, always a big crowd," sophomore Cam Soenksen said. "They beat us fourth quarter last time, we adjusted to that, we've been doing a lot of conditioning because we got tired, turned the ball over and made stupid mistakes, couldn't implement our offense at the end of the game, started shooting up bad shots."
Tuesday night, Soenksen made sure there wasn't any hope of a blown lead this time around as he scored 11 of his game-high 20 points in the third quarter, helping the Indians turn a six-point halftime lead into a 71-47 romp over the Rebels.
"We came out at halftime with a lot of confidence," Soenksen said. "We started making our run, we noticed we took smart shots and played our heart out on defense."
Soenksen was all over the place in the third quarter, disrupting the Northeast (15-4, 12-3 River Valley) offense to help the Indians take control. He added six rebounds, three steals and two assists and was complemented by Caleb Delzell, who had 16 points and five rebounds, and Dev Patel, who stuffed the stat sheet with 14 points, eight assists, eight rebounds and five steals.
It looked early like it could be a classic battle between two powerful teams. The Rebels dominated down low and on the boards in the first quarter to take a 15-14 lead.
Luke Empen scored all 12 of his points in the first 10 minutes of game time, helping the Rebels pull out to a 21-18 lead early in the second quarter before the Indians started heating up, thanks to Delzell.
Delzell scored 10 points in the second quarter, including a 3-pointer in the closing seconds to send a raucous Camanche team into halftime with a 33-27 lead. Delzell also hit a buzzer-beating 3 in the third quarter to put Camanche (14-5, 12-3) up 53-35.
"I don't know how much it boosts us compared to just deflating the other team," Camanche coach Josh Davis said. "I thought our end of clock situations, we've been working on them, getting good shots ... when we're going like that and the ball's moving, you can't zone it."
Camanche now feels like its hitting its stride as the postseason nears, looking for a return trip to state. The Indians have won three straight games and their five losses have come by a combined 23 points.
Meanwhile, the Rebels are stuck looking for answers. Along with Empen's 12 points and 12 rebounds, Braeden Hoyer added 13 points and five rebounds, but the duo combined for just two points in the second half as Empen got into foul trouble.
Northeast also committed 18 turnovers on the night, many unforced, something that head coach Travis Eversmeyer said has now been an issue in the team's last three games, all losses.
"We've just got to get some mental fortitude and have somebody that wants to bring the ball up," Eversmeyer said. "I don't think it's the end of the world, we're probably the two-seed (in postseason districts), I think Camanche will get the one, they should. We've just got to take care of the ball like we did in the first quarter when we were running them out of the gym."