DeWITT, Iowa – Henry Bloom has had better nights shooting the basketball, but the Central DeWitt senior hit the shot that mattered most Monday.
The Sabers’ senior knocked down a short jumper in front of the basket with 14 seconds remaining in overtime to lift Central DeWitt past Center Point-Urbana 52-51 in an Iowa Class 3A postseason opener.
“I was able to get the ball in the lane, go up and hit the shot,’’ Bloom said.
And then it was time to play defense.
The Stormin’ Pointers never had a last shot, denied the opportunity when the Sabers’ Gibson McEwen picked off a pass intended for Trey Johannes down low with :03 to play and Central DeWitt ran out the clock.
“We knew they were going to try to get the ball to (Johannes). We’ve been seeing that look from our scout team the past few days and I was able to step in front of the pass and get the ball,’’ McEwen said.
“The seniors on this team deserved another game. We had to find a way to win it. I was going to do what I could to help give them that chance.’’
McEwen’s steal sends the 12-10 Sabers into a Thursday semifinal against unbeaten Monticello, which won its 20th game of the season, beating Vinton-Shellsburg on Monday.
“Everybody stepped up on defense, did their job and we got it done,’’ Bloom said. “The scout team had us ready for them. They get the credit. They had us ready to play defense the way we needed to play it to get the win.’’
Shawn Gilbert, who led Central DeWitt with 14 points, forced the overtime when he hit the second of two free throws with :45 to play in regulation to tie the game at 45.
CPU turned the ball over at midcourt on the ensuing possession, but Gilbert missed a shot to win the game in the final seconds of the fourth quarter.
The first points in overtime came when Bloom hit one of two free throws with 2:32 remaining to give Central DeWitt a 46-45 lead.
The teams traded scores the rest of the way, the lead changing hands six times before Bloom’s basket erased a 51-50 lead the Stormin’ Pointers had taken on a Johannes basket with :51 to go.
“We knew we were going to have to earn it,’’ Sabers coach Grady Gallagher said. “CPU had played Mount Vernon, Beckman and Solon, all good teams in their division in the WAMAC, tough lately. We had to be ready to go.’’
That wasn’t an issue.
Central DeWitt grabbed an early 16-4 lead before CPU (9-14) scored the final eight points of the opening quarter and eventually pulling within 25-24 at halftime.
Joey Metzen, who led the Stormin’ Pointers with 15 points, gave CPU its first lead of the game at 29-27 when he scored on a drive midway through the third quarter.
McEwen scored half of his 10 points on consecutive possessions later in the quarter, moving the Sabers back in front before a Keegan Koppedryer 3-pointer sent the teams into the fourth tied at 34.
The Sabers trailed 41-37 before Bloom began the comeback by hitting two free throws, part of a 13-point effort that came despite a 3-of-14 shooting night from field.
Gilbert, scoring eight of his points in the fourth quarter and in overtime, then drove the lane for a score with 3:10 to play.
“The defense was a constant. When the shots weren’t dropping, our guys found other ways to impact the game,’’ Gallagher said. “That’s what it takes. Find a way to affect the game. That started on the defensive end.’’