June 16, 2024

Kirkwood bounces Spartans

ESTHERVILLE — Southwestern’s men’s basketball season came to end Saturday in a 70-51 loss to second-seeded Kirkwood in the quarterfinals of the Region 11 Division II tournament.

The Eagles (25-6), now ranked ninth nationally, will face fifth-ranked conference regular season champion Iowa Lakes tonight (Thursday) for the regional championship in Estherville. After beating Southwestern, Kirkwood rallied to top DMACC, 77-62, in the semifinals.

Kirkwood also trailed at halftime in its quarterfinal game, as Southwestern (9-21) held a 31-25 advantage. The Spartans, saddled with several injuries in the second half of the season, managed only 20 points in the second half as the Eagles sailed to the 19-point victory.

“We ran out of gas, to be honest,” Spartan coach Reggie Kindle said. “We were playing six or seven guys a lot of minutes. Our injuries and lack of depth hurt us. We gave Kirkwood our best shot, but they were playing nine or 10 guys and that makes a difference. They played well and now they’re in the regional finals.”

Freshman Corbin Dozier, sophomore Isaiah Peasley and sophomore guard Khayden Hooks have been out with injuries during the second semester. Dozier played sparingly in late-season games.

The team’s leading scorer, Devin Tomlinson of Blue Springs, Missouri, played his final game for the Spartans as did starter Brance Baker of Creston, Peasley and Hooks. Tomlinson, who averaged 16.2 points and 6.9 rebounds, hasn’t decided on where he will play next.

Baker plans to enroll at the University of Northern Iowa on an academic scholarship and will not play basketball. He averaged 6.5 points, 3.6 rebounds and 2.1 assists as a sophomore.

Three starters — Joel Villanueva, Patrick Worrell and Justin Bussey — along with top scoring reserve Drake Davison will be among the returnees next season, leaving Kindle optimistic about the future. Southwestern finished at 9-21 this year and 5-11 in the ICCAC Division II race, ending up as the seventh seed in the regional tournament.

“Even when we had guys go down with injuries, we played our butts off and we had some solid wins,” Kindle said. “We were starting to catch stride just as we began losing some guys. If we had stayed healthy, maybe the whole season could have ended up differently. But, our four sophomores are all graduating with their associate degrees and improving their lives, and we’re proud of that. It was kind of a year of what-ifs for us, but also a year of growth for everybody.”

SOUTHWESTERN (51) — Totals — (FG FT PTS) 21 2-4 51. Joel Villanueva 5 0-0 12, Devin Tomlinson 4 1-2 10, Drake Davison 5 0-0 10, Patrick Worrell 3 0-0 9, Justin Bussey 3 1-2 8, Brance Baker 1 0-0 2. FG shooting — 21-48 (43.8 percent). 3-point goals — 7-21 (Worrell 3, Villanueva 2, Bussey 1, Tomlinson 1). Rebounds — 25 (Tomlinson 6, Worrell 5, Bussey 4, Davison 3). Assists — 13 (Davison 5, Bussey 4, Baker 2, Tomlinson 2). Steals — 4 (Worrell 1, Baker 1, Davison 1, Quincy Evans 1). Blocked shots — 3 (Tomlinson 3). Turnovers — 14. Team fouls — 14. Fouled out — None.

KIRKWOOD (70) — Totals — (FG FT PTS) 24 11-15 70. Noah King 6 6-7 20, Cassius Brooks 5 2-2 14, Ayouba Berthe 5 1-2 13, Justin Ricker 4 1-2 11, Caylor Hoffer 3 0-0 9, Marcus Glover 1 0-0 2, Arthur Cox 0 1-2 1. FG shooting — 24-53 (45.3 percent). 3-point goals — 11-28 (Hoffer 3, Berthe 2, Brooks 2, King 2. Rebounds — 37 (Glover 8, Berthe 7). Assists — 13 (King 9). Steals — 3. Blocked shots — 1 (Recker 1). Turnovers — 10. Team fouls — 11. Fouled out — None.

Larry Peterson

LARRY PETERSON

Former senior feature writer at Creston News Advertiser and columnist. Previous positions include sports editor for many years and assistant editor. Also a middle school basketball coach in Creston.