BY CHUCK VANDENBERG
DONNELLSON – Central Lee Head Coach Evan Swanson said the Hawks’ 76-53 win over Van Buren was a win the boys wanted – but they have their eyes on West Burlington Friday.
‘I won’t beat around the bush, our boys like beating Van Buren. There’s that little Central Lee/Van Buren rivalry there – but their eyes are on West Burlington,” Swanson said.
The Falcons host Central Lee on Friday. West Burlington beat the Hawks by 21 in Donnellson earlier this year.
Central Lee set the tone early on racing to a 25-5 lead with Jaxon Betker hitting four 3-pointers in a span of about three minutes for 12 of his 15 points on the night.
Dylan Stuecker led Central with 20 points.
The Hawks would keep Van Buren’s offense to just one shot most of the night, a goal Swanson said the team has had all year.
The Hawks (4-4, 4-7) have won four of their last five, and just missed knocking off county rival Fort Madison Saturday, when Kaleb Sanders’ floating 10-foot buzzer beater missed off the back of the rim.
Swanson said the Warriors have improved over the season and the rivalry is heating up with Van Buren.
Jackson Manning had a game-high 24 for Van Buren, but was the only player in double figures for the visitors.
Central Lee held the Warriors down by 18-20 points for most of the night.
Wyatt Mertens would convert a couple free throws late in the third to cut the lead to to 16, but Central Lee would come out in the fourth and blow the game open highlighted by a slicing drive and layup from Stuecker to give Central a 26-point lead 68-42.
Swanson runs a rotation of eight seniors with only Alex Sandoval coming off the bench as an underclassman. Sophomore Corbin Pohren got some time in off the bench in the fourth, as well.
He said the seniors look forward to playing Van Buren and legendary Van Buren coach Fred Parsons.
“We played well and they’ve definitely improved since the last time we met,” Swanson said.
“I know the boys are happy to have this win behind them so we can start focusing on (West Burlington).”