Third time's a charm? Not for Iowa Central.
The Iowa Lake men hosted the Tritons for the second time in two weeks and in their third meeting of the season in the first round of the Region XI Tournament on Tuesday.
The 19th-ranked Lakers, coming off Saturday's win over 15th-ranked Kirkwood, showed they were ready to play hard this postseason with an 89-56 win over the Tritons.
Tied at 6-6 early in the game, Iowa Lakes burst forth with a 25-7 run to lead 33-13. The Lakers led 50-23 at the half as they shot 57 percent in the first 20 minutes. The Lakers kept the pressure on in the second half and led 72-33 when coach Troy Larson pulled his starters and let his bench play nearly the final 10 minutes.
"It's a lot of fun when you put in a ton of work and the guys come together and they get it," said Larson. "You can just let them play. You're know they'll guard hard and take the right shot most of the time."
Iowa Lakes (22-8 overall) advances to the Region XI semifinal against Kirkwood (24-6) in Cedar Rapids at 7:30 p.m., Thursday. The defending National Champion Eagles needed to work to defeat North Iowa Area Community College 78-71 in their quarterfinal. In the other quarterfinal matchups, top seed Southwestern rolled past Little Priest Tribal 137-85 and No. 4 seed Ellsworth defeated Des Moines Area 75-60. Southwestern and Ellsworth will play at 7 p.m., Thursday in Creston. Thursday's will meet Saturday at the home of the highest remaining seeded team.
Against Iowa Central, Jaylon Tapplar got the Lakers started, scoring six of the team's first eight points and he would score 14 of his 16 points in the first half.
Streeter McIlravy and Kyle Beisch also would both score 10 points in the first half with the freshmen duo finishing with 15 and 13 points, respectively in the game.
Dennis Joiner came off the bench to hit a pair of 3-pointers in the first half and he helped the Lakers stretch the lead in the second half as he finished with 18 points. He finished 6-of-9 from the field and 4-of-7 from beyond the arc.
Tywon Bressler finished with eight points and four assists. Mitch Keller had a solid effort with seven points and nine rebounds.
The Lakers had a 53-31 edge on the boards.
Of the 22 assists, Joe Binyoti dished out seven to go along with his four points.
Josh Conley finished with five points and Rod Fuller and Jed Robinson each had two. Only Alex Rogers failed to score, but he contributed four rebounds and three assists.
The Lakers shot 49 percent (33-of-68) from the field, including 44 percent (10-of-23) from 3-point range and 77 percent (13-of-17) from the free throw line.
Looking ahead to Kirkwood, Larson said it was obvious this year that it would come down to the Lakers, Kirkwood and Southwestern.
"And that's okay," he said. "We're playing like grown men right now and it will take a grown-man effort for the entire 40 minutes against Kirkwood."