Heartbreak for Southeast Valley

HUMBOLDT – Southeast Valley and Garner-Hayfield/Ventura traded punches throughout Tuesday night’s Class 2A, District 3 boys basketball final.

In the end, the Jaguars (18-4 overall) saw their season come to a heartbreaking close with a 69-67 defeat at the Humboldt gym.

Freshman James Betz’s offensive rebound and putback just before the final buzzer sounded was the winning hoop for the Cardinals, who extended their victory streak to 11 consecutive games.

“It was anybody’s game,” said Southeast Valley head coach Kyle Johnson. “I knew they had a size advantage coming in, so we decided to go with a 2-3 zone defense. They were just able to come up with one more big play there at the end.”

Conner Conrad, a 6-foot-2 senior, sparked the Jaguars with a game-high 27 points.

Sophomore Kaleb Jondle also contributed 14 points for Southeast Valley, while junior Dakota Jaeschke added 11. Jaeschke also grabbed 12 rebounds.

After building a 42-33 advantage early in the third quarter, the Jaguars saw Garner-Hayfield/Ventura reel off the next eight points to gain all the momentum. Jondle’s buzzer-beating triple later pushed Southeast Valley back in front by the smallest of margins entering the fourth quarter.

“Jondle was terrific for us,” Johnson said. “He really stepped up and hit some big shots (last evening).”

Jondle also drained a clutch longball to tie the contest with just 41 seconds remaining, which followed a Payton James go-ahead 3-pointer on the previous possession for the Cardinals. With the score all tied at 67, Garner-Hayfield/Ventura called a timeout with 12.7 ticks left to set up for one last play.

Turner Albertson then missed a triple from the right wing, setting the stage for Betz’s heroics.

Betz and senior Sam Cataldo each netted 16 points for the Cardinals (21-3). James (14) and sophomore Nick Joynt (11) also scored in double figures.

The two squads both made 28 field goals, while combining to shoot 21-for-55 from outside the arc. There were 22 different ties and lead changes Tuesday.

Cade King, Logan Boerner and Josh Carlson were the other Jaguar seniors. Prior to last night, Southeast Valley had prevailed in four straight and 17 of their last 18 outings.

Conrad wrapped up his standout career with 1,318 points.

“Conner’s a heck of a player,” said Johnson. “He’s shot the ball really well for us the last four years. These guys have been a blast to coach. We had one of our best practices (Sunday). I knew we’d come out ready to play.”

Garner-Hayfield/Ventura suffered its losses this season to Osage (56-51), West Hancock (79-64) and Forest City (45-38).

Next up for the Cardinals is Osage (19-4) in a 2A, Substate 2 final on Saturday at 7 p.m. in Algona. The Green Devils edged Lake Mills Tuesday in a 74-71 decision.