Thrice as nice — Mustangs defeat Anderson Co. for third time

Iola High has had to battle three times, and has been able to defeat Pioneer League rival Anderson County three times this season. A fourth showdown may be looming in the postseason.



February 12, 2024 - 3:21 PM

Iola High's Mac Leonard leads a fast break Friday against Anderson County. Photo by Richard Luken

Iola High did just enough to pick up its third win of the season against Pioneer League rival Anderson County Friday.

The Mustangs responded after Anderson County whittled an 11-point deficit down to two with 3½ minutes left in the game.

A pair of familiar faces — Iola’s Landon Weide and Cortland Carson — helped put the game away from there. The duo combined to hit 7 of 8 free throws as Iola ended the game on a 9-3 run to win, 49-41.

Mustang head coach Luke Bycroft noted the difficulty in defeating a tough opponent three times in one season, with it looking increasingly likely a fourth showdown is coming soon.

“It’s very tough,” Bycroft said. “They’ve changed up their defense and go primarily with zone. We’d been working on it in practice, and there were a few possessions where we did a good job of attacking it. All in all, we were a little stagnant against the zone. We’ve gotta be a little better, but I’m proud of how tough we played, how hard we defended and challenged them on the defensive end.”

Weide led the way with 17 points, to go with (unofficially) nine rebounds and six assists. He also was responsible for  guarding Anderson County standout Noah Porter. Porter wound up with 11 to lead the Bulldogs.

The Mustangs’ Mac Leonard gave the home town an early charge with his buzzer-beating 3-pointer to end the first quarter, from just inside the half court line.

Leonard started the second period the same way, with a deep trey, as part of a 9-0 Mustang run to open a 23-17 lead.

But both offenses went stagnant for the balance of the first half.

Anderson County sliced the lead to one early in the third quarter but Iola’s Grady Dougherty had a pair of critical putbacks late in the period as Iola opened a 36-29 lead. His steal led to Weide’s layup to push Iola ahead, 38-29, after three.

“Mac helped us a ton with his shooting,” Bycroft said. “If we can get him and Cortland and Matt and Landon all shooting well together, we’re going to be tough. Tonight, we did just enough.”

Weide’s assist to Leonard pushed Iola ahead 40-29 before the Bulldogs mounted their comeback, courtesy of a frenetic trapping defense.

Preston Kueser’s free throws with 3:31 left capped Anderson County’s 9-0 run, setting up Iola’s big finish.

Leonard added 11 points for the Mustangs.

Bycroft also praised Dougherty’s work inside.