(Atlantic) -- It may have been two days late, but it was just as eventful and entertaining as imagined. In the end, the Treynor Cardinals are going back to the state tournament.
Treynor used a 17-0 run to erase an early 12-point deficit and came out on the winning end of a grueling, physical battle with a 56-51 victory in a Class 2A Substate Final over KMAland No. 1 Kuemper Catholic. The win sends Treynor to Des Moines where they will meet North Cedar in a Class 2A Quarterfinal next Tuesday at 12:15 PM.
The Cardinals, ranked No. 3 in the final KMAland Power Rankings, trailed by six after the opening quarter thanks to a 9-0 Kuemper run completed by a three-point make from senior Chase Rupiper.
Treynor responded by scoring four of the first five points of the second period to pull within three, but the Knights followed with another 9-0 run to open their biggest lead of the night at 25-13.
The Cardinals came right back with a 12-0 streak of their own to tie the game and close the half thanks to five points from Jacob Flathers and four out of Nolan Chapman.
The run continued early in the third as Nick Paulsen scored five consecutive points and suddenly the Cardinals led by five. But, Kuemper was far from done.
The Knights responded with the next six to take a 31-30 lead ahead of another quick 5-0 run from the Cardinals. After some back and forth, freshman Trey Castle canned a three and found Paulsen for a layup to push the Treynor lead to six.
Treynor actually had a chance to play for the final shot of the third quarter and take at least a six-point lead into the final eight minutes. However, Kuemper came away with a steal and Sam Brincks converted a three-point play to end the period at 40-37.
After a Trey Robinson bucket inside for the Cardinals, Kuemper responded with six in a row on baskets from Alex Drees, Cole Neary and Brincks to take another one-point lead and start a flurry of lead changes.
Treynor took the lead back on an offensive rebound and putback by Paulsen before Alex Gunnerson sunk two free throws and Chapman responded with two of his own. After Castle made one of two free throws, Drees knotted the game at 47 with a layup.
Paulsen would score again to give Treynor a 49-47 lead, but Neary came back with two of his own to tie the game at 49 with just under two minutes to play.
Chapman's long three-pointer from the right wing gave Treynor a 52-49 edge with 1:40 to play, and his free throw 30 seconds later suddenly put the Cardinals on the precipice of a 13th state tournament appearance - and first since 2011.
The Knights wouldn't go quietly, though, as Drees cut the lead in half with another lay-in, and the Cardinals struggled to put the game away at the line, missing four consecutive free throws and six of seven before the freshman, Castle, finally secured the win with two freebies for the final margin.
Following the win, Treynor coach Scott Rucker and all five starters - Flathers, Paulsen, Chapman, Robinson and Castle - talked with KMA Sports. You can view those interviews in their entirety below...
Chapman led all scorers with 17 points while Paulsen and Flathers had 13 apiece. Robinson finished with five points and 13 rebounds and Castle chipped in eight very important points while dealing with the Kuemper pressure all evening.
Third-seeded Treynor (23-1) will play in a Class 2A State Quarterfinal next Tuesday afternoon at 12:15 PM against No. 6 seed North Cedar, Stanwood (21-3). You can hear that game on KMA-FM 99.1, online streaming at this website or on your KMA FM smartphone app.
Kuemper's season ends at 19-5 and will have to say goodbye to an enormous 11-man senior class, which scored every point, gathered every rebound and picked up every steal on Monday night.
Neary - a Drake football recruit - had 16 points, 10 rebounds and four steals while Drees and Brincks had 11 points apiece.