DONNELLSON – The Central Lee boys basketball team has flirted with upsets all year, but never broken through.
But Tuesday night the Hawks shocked a New London team that was ranked as high as fourth in the state in Class 1A in different state rankings.
A baby 7-2 run in the early part of the 4th quarter and then some solid defense helped Central Lee to a 59-55 win over the Tigers in Southeast Iowa Superconference action.
It looked like New London would keep Central Lee just at arms length which has been the story all year for the Hawks.
The Tigers jumped out to an early 13-7 lead and pushed that to nine points at the end of the half. Jaxon Betker had seven in the first half for Central Lee on the way to game-high 17 on the night.
New London kept the Hawks at bay for most of the third period as well, and held an 11-point lead at 44-33 with three minutes to go in the 3rd.
But the Hawks would close the gap to just two at the end of the period as Bronson Sargent, Alex Sandoval, Betker and Dylan Stuecker all hit 3-pointers in the run to get within two at 49-47 starting the fourth.
Betker would hit two more from long range in the early going of the fourth and Stuecker would add another to push Central Lee in front 58-55 and the Hawks’ defense would hold New London scoreless for the final five minutes of the period to get the win.
Sargent would add a free throw for the final margin. He would finish with 13 points on the night. Stuecker had 14, while Sandoval had nine, Kade Myhre finished with four, and Kaleb Sanders chipped in with two.
Devin Swanson and Camden Kasel each had 13 for the Tigers, who suffered their first loss of the year and stand at 6-1 in the conference and 6-1 overall.
Iowa AP rankings had the Tigers at 14th, but BC Moore, a database driven rankings system, has New London as the 4th best team in its power rankings.
The Hawks are 2-3 in the conference 2-6 overall. They pick up the season after the holidays on Jan. 5 at WACO.