By Ryan Murken
Your Prep Sports
WEST BRANCH – A key for West Branch during its current winning streak has been a more balanced offensive attack.
Sometimes the key for West Branch is letting Cooper Kabela and Beau Cornwell do what they do best.
Thursday’s regular season finale against Clear Creek Amana was one of those times.
Kabela and Cornwell combined for 49 points and 17 rebounds as West Branch ran its winning streak to 10 straight with a 68-56 win over Clear Creek Amana (2-17) on senior night in West Branch.
“They were our focus point last night in film session and in our scouting report and unfortunately we let them get going and that was it from there,” Clear Creek Amana coach Brandon Clubb said. “There isn’t a lot you can do with some of those shots and they are just two really good players and we were hoping they wouldn’t beat us.”
Kabela scored 25 of his game-high 28 points over the final three quarters as West Branch closed the regular season 16-5.
Cornwell had 16 of his 21 points during a span of less than three minutes to end the second quarter and begin the third helping West Branch turn a two-point lead into a 43-26 cushion.
“When Cooper moves, he is pretty tough to guard, bottom line,” West Branch coach Tom Burger said. “And thank goodness Beau got hot in the second quarter. That sure changed some things.”
Kabela entered averaging nearly 23 points per game but got off to a slow start on senior night.
The 6-foot-5 forward made just one of six field goal attempts and had three points in the first quarter as West Branch trailed 14-9 after one quarter.
Clear Creek Amana led 18-11 a minute into the second quarter after a Drake Mougin jumper but the rest of the half was all Bears.
Kabela pulled West Branch to within 18-16 with five straight points and Bears took a 19-18 lead on a Ben Thompson 3-point play.
After going 4-of-13 from the field in the first quarter West Branch made 10-of-18 field goals in the second as Kabela went 5-of-6 from the floor in the quarter.
“We got more patient and actually started running our offense,” Kabela said. “Being senior night, I came out and started trying to hit some shots and they weren’t falling but in the second quarter we slowed down and ran our offense and things started working.”
West Branch led 25-23 after a Tate Thomsen jumper with 2:21 left in the second quarter but Cornwell took over.
The sophomore guard hit 3-pointers on three consecutive possessions, all in a span of 58 seconds to give West Branch a 34-23 lead.
“That was really important for us, we were struggling to hit shots and then Beau comes and hits three in a row,” Kabela said. “All of a sudden we have a 10-point lead and that was a huge confidence boost for us.”
Cornwell made just one of his first eight field goal attempts but scored 11 points in the final 3:13 of the half spurred by the three late 3-pointers.
“After I hit that first one I put the second one up and I was kind of iffy about it,” Cornwell said. “The third one was just a heat check and I just threw it up there and it happened to fall.”
Leading 34-24 at the half Cornwell helped the Bears put the game away early in the third.
Cornwell scored seven points in the opening 58 seconds of the third quarter on a driving layup, a 3-poitner and a transition layup following a steal that was part of a 9-2 run to open the half.
“When Beau is hot, Beau is hot,” Kabela said. “It doesn’t really matter where he’s at, he doesn’t even have to be open really, when he’s going and he puts it up you pretty much know it’s going in.”
Kabela helped salt the game away.
After his slow start Kabela made nine of his final 10 field goal attempts including all four in the second half.
He had seven points in each of the final two quarters as West Branch shot 52 percent from the floor over the final 24 minutes.
“We’ve been working with him on some things to find other ways to get open and he’s starting to do that now,” Burger said. “He becoming a screener, he’s stepping out to the 3-point line and he’s putting the ball on the floor so he has made himself a better player to.”
Thomsen had 17 points to lead three Clear Creek Amana players in double figures.
Tyler Hallett added 15 points and seven rebounds, Mougin had 12 points and Cory Siders grabbed 14 rebounds.
“We just drift away from what we are trying to do sometimes,” Clubb said. “Things work and then we go away from it.
West Branch 9 25 22 12 – 68
Clear Creek Amana 14 10 14 18 – 56
West Branch (68) – Cade Aspelmeier 0-1 0-0 0, Beau Cornwell 8-20 1-1 21, Tanner Lukavsky 1-3 0-0 2, Brett Schiele 1-2 0-0 3, Cooper Kabela 10-16 5-6 28, Ben Thompson 4-9 2-4 10, Ted Bridges 2-2 0-0 4, Jack Dragovich 0-2 0-0 0, Team 26-56 8-11 68.
Clear Creek Amana (56) – Tate Thomsen 6-13 4-7 17, Nolan Schwarting 0-1 0-0 0, Cory Siders 2-7 0-0 4, Drake Mougin 5-10 1-3 12, Tyler Hallett 6-12 3-4 15, Kobey Schlotman 0-2 0-0 0, Jordan Smith 0-1 0-0 0, Tyler Schrepfer 2-4 0-0 5, Camden Armstrong 1-5 0-0 3, Team 22-55 8-14 56.
3-point field goals – WB 8-21 (Cornwell 4-12, Aspelmeier 0-1, T. Lukavsky 0-1, Schiele 1-2, Kabela 3-5), CCA 4-13 (Thomsen 1-3, Mougin 1-1, Hallett 0-1, Schlotman 0-2, Smith 0-1, Schrepfer 1-3, Armstrong 1-2). Rebounds – WB 37 (Cornwell 9), CCA 34 (Siders 14).Turnovers – WB 7, CCA 9. Total fouls – WB 16, CCA 11. Fouled out – None. Technical fouls – Clear Creek Amana (Bench).