Fairfield Ledger
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Neighbors Growing Together | Sep 19, 2014

Revenge of the Warriors: Van Buren cruises

By MICHAEL LEACH, Ledger sports editor | Jan 23, 2013
Photo by: MICHAEL LEACH/Ledger photo Van Buren freshman Will Mertens, right, springs to the rim against Cardinal’s Kaleb Durflinger, a sophomore, during Tuesday’s conference game in Keosauqua.

KEOSAUQUA — It took the Van Buren boys’ basketball team a couple minutes to get going Tuesday in its conference matchup vs. Cardinal.

Once the host Warriors did, however, there was no stopping them.

Van Buren scored its first basket two minutes into the first quarter, then poured in 68 more points in the game’s final 30 minutes to earn a 70-55 victory over Cardinal in Keosauqua.

The 15-point rivalry win was in stark contrast to the teams’ first matchup Dec. 11, when the Warriors lost a 56-53 game on a last-second shot in Eldon. Van Buren head coach Fred Parsons contributed some of the turnaround to his team’s recent tough schedule.

“We had played seven games in 12 days, and we were playing the Danvilles and Notre Dames,” Parsons said. “If you’re playing against solid teams it certainly makes you play better.”

The two teams traded blows in the opening minutes before Van Buren caught fire in the quarter’s final minute. The host Warriors went on a 7-2 run in that span, which included five points from sophomore Brandon Plecker and was capped by a Tanner Smith layup, to take a 21-14 lead into the second period.

Smith, who finished the game with 10 points, said the scoring burst all started with the Warriors’ ability to secure rebounds on both sides of the floor.

“Getting rebounds during the game is what really picks us up and gets us going in any game, and I think that’s what started us this game,” said Smith.

Van Buren built onto its lead in the second quarter scoring the first three points, and a buzzer-beater 2 from Plecker sent Van Buren into the locker room up 36-26 at halftime.

Freshman Will Mertens scored eight of his 13 points in the third quarter as Van Buren pushed its lead to 51-35 after three.

The Warriors were led on offense by Plecker’s 18 points. Thomas Fitzsimmons scored 12 points, while Garrett Saunders netted 11.

Cardinal was led by Charlie Rachford’s 13 points and three blocked shots, plus Dakota Showman’s 12 points.

Kaleb Durflinger finished with a double-double of 10 points and 10 boards, Brandon Potts scored eight and Jonathan Pedersen ended up with six points. Cody Carter dished out four assists.

The win improves the Warrior boys to 10-7 overall and 9-6 in the Southeast Iowa Super Conference South. They head to Holy Trinity on Friday.

“These are very good kids, and they’re not only good kids but they’re good students,” said Parsons. “That makes a big, big difference, and even though they’re young they’ve come along and I can’t say enough about them. I’m very proud of them.”

Cardinal, meanwhile, drops to 9-6 overall and 8-5 in the south division with the loss. They next play at top-ranked Class 1A Danville on Thursday.

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