CAMANCHE, Iowa — The Camanche Indians have advanced to the Class 2A District 9 finals with help from Dev Patel and Cam Soenksen, and the two team leaders are headed into the game with Northeast on Tuesday calm and confident.
After all, they’ve been here before.
“I don’t feel any pressure anymore because we were part of it last year and we made it to the ultimate goal, Wells Fargo,” Patel said. Patel is a senior and was on the state-qualifying Indian squad in 2017. “We tell ourselves that there aren’t going to be better teams now than there were last year that we played at Wells Fargo. We have that confidence in us to take over during districts.”
Patel runs the Indians’ offense, leading the team with 156 assists on the season. He is also the second leading scorer, averaging almost 15 points a game.
Toss in a team-high 163 rebounds and 56 steals and you really have yourself an all-around player.
“It’s an honor to play with him,” teammate Cam Soenksen said. Soenksen also was a part of the team who made the trip to Wells Fargo Arena in Des Moines. “Dev is a great, great basketball player. He finds you when you’re open and still makes passes when someone is on him.
“The things he can do for a team changes the whole team. He can get anyone open, get anyone the ball and score at anytime. He’s one of the biggest threats in our conference.”
Even with all the stats, assists is the one Patel says he takes the most pride in. It’s probably also the one that aids the Indians the most.
“I’m not a selfish guy, but I want to win that’s for sure,” Patel said.
Even with the assists and the rebounds, Patel is a threat offensively as well. After passing the ball off on the perimeter you can find him making moves in the lane, driving to the rim, or draining threes to keep the high-powered Camanche offense going.
He scored 26 for the Indians in their win over Durant in the regional semifinals on Thursday.
He doesn’t just affect the final score, but Patel truly serves as a senior leader to his teammates.
Most of the time, Dev has been around this environment a lot, so I try to let Dev tell me what to do,” Soenksen said. “He’s a great leader and I always listen to Dev.”
A compliment to him is Soenksen.
“It’s fun playing with Cam because he reminds me of myself—loving the game and having fun,” Patel said about his sophomore teammate. “I wouldn’t want to play with anyone else, I love that guy and it’s fun playing with him.”
Soenksen leads the team with an average of 17 points per game. He’s drained 46 threes this season, shooting 34.8 percent from beyond the arc.
“I have worked on it,” Soenksen said of his shooting. “Me and my brother, he really taught me how to shoot. We got in the gym every day and put up a couple hundred shots, so it’s been natural to me.”
It’s not just the flashy shots from the field that he excels at—you can find a high flying Soenksen in the lane as well.
“I try not to do too much and just play my game, not get involved with the crowd too much,” Soenksen said. “I try to take shots I feel like I can make the most and make plays that help the team in the end.”
He had pulled down the third most rebounds on the team, and he leads the team in steals with 71.
The two together are a duo that’s hard for teams to stop.
“There’s no single approach, we just take what the defense gives us,” Patel said. “We know we’re two of the best players in this district matter of fact, and we keep that confidence and that confidence really helps coming down the stretch.”
Their stats aren’t the only thing they’re worried about, though. Head Coach Josh Davis has nurtured a team that’s determined to win no matter who is the leading scorer.
“Coach has brought us through things a lot,” Soenksen said. “As a team we used to kind of fade out and do our own thing, but Coach has really emphasized bringing us together as a team with communicating, bringing each other up after free throws, talking, finding match ups. Coach has really emphasized being a team instead of your own individual.”
The Indians have a record of 16-6, with three of those losses happening in the first seven games of the season.
“Coach told us at the start of the season that we were going to have growing pains,” Patel said. “Quite evidently we had growing pains throughout the middle of the season but now we feel like we’re clicking. We can be a very scary team when we knock down shots.”
Now they’re gearing up for a big local matchup with the Northeast Rebels on Tuesday at Yourd Gymnasium. The atmosphere is set to be electric, and the basketball evenly matched. The Rebels and the Indians split games during the regular season.
The Indians—including Patel and Soenksen— know that the gym floor at Clinton High is not where they want their season to end.
“Stay in tune for the rest of the season, because me and him really have one goal and that’s to go to Wells,” Patel said.