Mt Pleasant News

Wash Journal   Fairfield Ledger
Neighbors Growing Together | Sep 25, 2018

The boys are back!

No. 1 Mt. Pleasant storms past Solon, books trip to Des Moines
Feb 27, 2018
Photo by: Andy Krutsinger Brady Sartorius (left) and Jordan Magnani (right) bring the state tournament banner to the middle of the floor as the Mt. Pleasant faithful celebrates the victory.

By Andy Krutsinger, Mt. Pleasant News


Gas up your cars, Panther fans, because the top-ranked Mt. Pleasant boys’ basketball team is headed back to Des Moines. The Panthers dominated Solon 68-47 in their substate final on Monday night to punch their ticket to Wells Fargo for the second-straight year.

The Panthers were throwing haymakers right off the tip. Mt. Pleasant jumped out to an early 12-2 lead thanks to four three-pointers in the first four minutes and two seconds. Brady Sartorius hit three of those and Jordan Magnani had one.

Later on in the quarter, Colin Mulford nailed a shot from outside to give the Panthers five first-quarter threes. A free throw from Sartorius and a couple of points from Kieran Kohorst helped Mt. Pleasant secure a 10-point lead at the first quarter break. After eight minutes, the Panthers led 18-8.

The high-pressure Mt. Pleasant defense really started to wear on Solon in the second quarter. The Panthers were able to force a handful of turnovers and ran the lead up with a flurry of hustle points. The Panther front court gave Solon fits with both Kohorst and Jonathan Ita scoring seven points in the period. When the halftime buzzer rang, the Panthers held a 46-28 lead.

“We came out ready to play,” said Sartorius about Mt. Pleasant’s quick start. “We were prepared for them, whatever they threw at us. We were energized the whole game, from the start.”

The Panthers were a little off in the third quarter. Solon was able to grind back to cut the lead to 13 points on a basket inside from Andrew Coons, making it 41-28 with 1:55 remaining in the period.

Mt. Pleasant didn’t fret, however. The Panthers calmly ran their offense, eventually finding some space for Mulford to launch a three. The senior wing nailed the long ball and Kohorst hit a layup at the buzzer to steal back any momentum the Spartans had gained. After three quarters, Mt. Pleasant held a comfortable 46-28 lead.

It was smooth sailing from that point forward. Sartorius scored 10 fourth-quarter points and Kohorst added seven more as the Panthers let the clock slowly run down to the final horn.

After the game, Coach Paul Rundquist stressed the pride he has in coaching his current cast, and talked about what it meant to bring them back to The Well.

“We’ve got a great group right now playing basketball,” Rundquist said. “I’m super proud of them. It’s great when good things happen to good kids and that’s what we have.”

Rundquist also spoke about the tournament itself, saying the Panthers will have to focus on their first round matchup and not look forward to potential later games.

“You can’t play game two unless you play game one, so we’ve got to take care of the first one,” Rundquist said. “We’ll worry about, hopefully, a second game after that.”

Sartorius finished the night with 22 points and six assists to lead the team. He went 6-14 from the field, 3-5 from beyond the arc and 7-8 from the free throw line.

Kohorst had a near perfect day. The senior post went 8-8 from the field and 2-4 from the free throw line for 18 points, and also led the squad with nine rebounds. After the game, Kohorst reflected on how important another state berth was to the senior class.

“It’s special,” Kohorst said. “It’s what we’ve always pictured since we were in third grade and first started as a team. It was awesome getting there last year, and this year with no game promised after this one, it’s really important to stay focused and stay motivated.”

Magnani had 11 points in the win to give the Panthers three double-digit scorers. Ita scored nine points and Mulford finished with eight points and nine rebounds.

The starting five scored every single point for Mt. Pleasant. The Panthers shot 24-45 from the field, 7-16 from the three-point line and 13-19 from the line in what was the definition of a team win.

The Spartans were led by Ben Krutzfeldt, who scored 17 points in the loss. Coons finished with 15 and Luke Ira had 10, eight of which came in the first half. Jonathan Stahle was the only other Spartan to score. He had five points, all in the third quarter.

Mt. Pleasant will be joined at state by the other seven qualifiers: Cedar Rapids Xavier, Sergeant Bluff-Luton, Oskaloosa, Marion, Waverly-Shell Rock, Norwalk and Glenwood.

The Panthers will be making their 11th trip to the state tournament. They will play on Tuesday, March 6, with matchups and game times coming out later this week.

After the game, Kohorst looked forward to the week ahead.

“I just want to get past that first game and spend some more time with my teammates,” he said. “It’s crazy thinking it’s already coming to an end. It’s going to be really hard when it’s over, but we can really take advantage of the time we have left together.”

And what is the team’s overall goal when they get to state? Sartorius made it nice and simple.

“To play three games and win them all, and win a state championship.”

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