DES MOINES – Trenton Massner thought his team was in good shape.
Despite playing far from its best game, Wapello managed to trim a 10-point deficit to just two with under two minutes remaining. Treynor coach Scott Rucker called a timeout and set up a play for Luke Clausen, the team's leading scorer, to get a shot from beyond the arc.
Clausen was just 4 of 14 in the game, but ran off a stagger screen, received a pass on the left wing and drilled a 3-pointer over Massner's outstretched hand to give Treynor a five-point lead.
No. 8-seeded Wapello never recovered and fell to top-seeded Treynor, 59-53, at Wells Fargo Arena in the Class 2A state quarterfinals.
The loss dropped the Indians to 23-2 and ended one of their best seasons in school history.
"I thought we had it," Massner said. "But that kid hit a huge shot. I thought I got a hand up pretty good in his face, but he's a good player, so he's going to make a big shot. That's just how it goes."
The Indians dug that hole with a lackluster third quarter that bled into the beginning of the fourth quarter.
"We came back from 10 down and they hit a big 3-pointer," Keaton Mitchell said. "We never came back from that."
Mitchell was the Indians' best player Monday, as the 6-foot-7 junior scored 15 points, grabbed 11 rebounds and swatted three shots. He was the only player on the team who took more than two shots and shot better than 40 percent.
"The past couple of games I was nervous so I tried to come out with as much intensity as possible," Mitchell said. "I knew if I played aggressive, I could get more boards, more opportunities for my teammates."
After digging a 4-0 hole off three early turnovers, Wapello quickly found a rhythm and rattled off 10 unanswered points to take an early 10-4 lead. Thanks to a 3-pointer from senior Gage Witte and layups from senior Logan Belzer and Mitchell, the Indians maintained their lead for the rest of the quarter.
They never trailed in the second, but Clausen hit a deep 3-pointer at the buzzer to trim the Wapello lead to one, 28-27, and Massner said he could feel the momentum shift.
The Cardinals opened the second half with an 8-1 run sparked by Jon Schwarte, who made three layups during that stretch and finished with 11 points, five rebounds and five blocks. Dillon Faubel capped off the run with a layup for two of his game-high 28 points.
"The first four minutes of the third quarter are the most important part of the game," Massner said. "We struggled and that was huge."
Perhaps more importantly was the way Treynor was able to defend Massner. The Cardinals doubled him off every ball screen and switched all other ball screens.
It worked, as the senior was held way below his scoring average with just 12 points on 3 of 11 shooting.
"The ball was stagnant up top, and Trenton had to keep dribbling around," senior Sam Short said. "That's not our type of offense."
The Indians committed 12 turnovers, which resulted in 18 points for the Cardinals, and only attempted 13 3-pointers after shooting more than 20 from long range in each of their last three games.
"We should have played better," Massner said. "It starts with me as a point guard. If I play better, we probably have a shot."
Even so, Wapello still battled back.
The Cardinals opened up a 52-42 lead with five minutes remaining, but the Indians went on a gutsy 8-0 run that was capped off by a 3-pointer from Witte for three of his 12 points to pull them within two, 52-50.
Wapello's hopes of winning quickly vanished as Treynor called a timeout and drew up a play for Clausen, who drilled a 3-pointer to effectively end one of the best seasons in Wapello school history.
"Just all the good things they did and how happy I am to be here," Wapello coach Ken Spielbauer said on what he'd remember about this team. "I'd rather finish here than anywhere else. I'm just proud of them."
"Just this experience and playing with my brothers," a choked up Short added. "It was a lot of fun."
Monday's loss ended the prep careers of seven Wapello seniors: Massner, Belzer, Witte, Short, Jackson Weyrick, Koby Boysen and Jared Wiley.
Massner is likely the only one of that group who will go on to play college basketball, but he knows nothing will ever be like playing with his childhood friends.
"Going to college, nothing is going to be the same," Massner said. "I'd pay a million dollars to play with these guys one more time."