ATLANTIC, Iowa — In a game where Nodaway Valley’s defensive game plan was to slow senior standouts Jared Vollstedt and Kyle Wagner, IKM-Manning needed a third option to pick up the slack.
Ben Wegner did that and then some, scoring 27 points and grabbing 12 rebounds to lead the Wolves (22-2) to a 65-60 Class 1-A, Substate 7 victory over the Wolverines (18-7) Saturday. Wegner’s last hoop answered a Jackson Lamb 3-pointer and put the Wolves in front 57-55 before Vollstedt hit 8 of 9 free throws down the stretch the put the game on ice.
The win sends the Wolves back to state for the first time since 2010 and erases some of the heartbreak from last year’s substate final loss to Treynor. No. 7 IKM-Manning will be the fifth-seed in the state tournament and take on No. 5 West Hancock at 10:30 a.m. March 7.
“That chip has been on our shoulder since February 27th of last year,” Vollstedt said. “He was a man and we told him if he brought it like that, he was going to have a big game.”
Wegner said the Wolves knocking down 3-pointers, especially in the second half, allowed him to go to work inside.
“I was just doing whatever I could to finish,” Wegner said. “The feeling of going to state, you can’t describe it.”
In a game that feature 14 lead changes and 6 ties, Nodaway Valley took their turn in control early, erasing an early 7-3 deficit with an 11-0 run that included eight of Jackson Lamb’s 20 points. Wegner jumpstarted the Wolves to a 9-1 run in the second stanza to take a brief lead at 20-19, before Spencer Lamb caught fire and hit four 3-pointers in the quarter.
IKM-Manning, however, tied the game at 28 right before Dallas Kreager hit the Wolverines’ ninth triple of the first half to make it 31-28 at the break.
“Our subs hurt them in the first half but their subs hurt us in the second half,” Nodaway Valley coach Darrell Burmeister said. “It was a great ballgame and we had a chance going into the fourth quarter but our triangle couldn’t quite handle (Wegner) inside.”
A back-and-forth third quarter ended with Nodaway Valley still holding a slim lead at 44-42 before Wegner went to work in the opening minutes of the fourth with six quick points to put IKM-Manning in front 50-47. The Wolverines scored five quick points to retake the lead at 52-50, but Jared Johnson buried a 3-pointer and Vollstedt followed with a 3-point play the put the Wolves in front for good.
“Ben was a man from start to finish and Jared Johnson was a huge part of it, too,” IKM-Manning coach Keith Wagner said. “Ridge Muhlbauer did a tremendous job on Lamb and Vollstedt hit some huge free throws.”
A group of seven Wolves’ seniors, including Wagner’s son Kyle, will now finish their careers at the pinnacle of Iowa high school basketball, Wells Fargo Arena. An emotional Wagner had trouble finding words to describe his happiness for his family as well as the IKM-Manning school district.
“It does not get any better and I am really proud of him and his teammates,” Wagner said. “It is really rewarding for our kids and our fans.”
IKM-Manning (22-2).....................11 17 14 23 — 65
Nodaway Valley (18-7)................16 15 13 16 — 60
IKMM: Jon Brandt 10, Ben Wegner 27, Jared Vollstedt 12, Kyle Wagner 9, Jared Johnson 5, Ridge Muhlbauer 2.
NV: Beau Weinheimer 3, Spencer Lamb 12, Nate Venteicher 10, Jackson Lamb 20, Dallas Kreager 3, Ryan Jensen 6, Sam Marnin 6.