The basketball season is upon us, and for the first time in five years, the Bobcat girls have begun their campaign with a victory.
Marshalltown took advantage of a distant height advantage, connected on several open shots from outside and coasted to an easy 67-29 win over Des Moines North on Tuesday during the season opener at the Roundhouse.
"It feels good to start off the season with a win, and it should help give the girls some confidence," MHS coach Tim Johnson said.
T-R PHOTO BY TROY HYDE
Bobcat senior Taylor Wagner, left, puts up a shot over Des Moines North center Richelle Jimerson (11) on Tuesday night during Marshalltown’s win over the Polar Bears. Wagner led all scorers with 21 points in a 67-29 triumph at the Roundhouse.
It was the first season-opening win for the Bobcats since Nov. 20, 2007, when they defeated these same North Polar Bears, 69-22. It also was the most points scored in a game since Marshalltown put in 74 in a win over Des Moines North on Dec. 5, 2008.
That season also was the last time the Bobcats began a season 2-0 as they knocked off Des Moines Hoover in game two. Marshalltown can go 2-0 again this year when they travel to Des Moines Hoover next Tuesday. The Huskies defeated Marshalltown by two in the jamboree this past weekend, but point guard Taylor Wagner did not play.
Wagner suited up and played for the Bobcats on Tuesday night and was a big difference maker in the win, scoring the game's first five points and finishing with a game-high 21. Amanda Hughes turned in 16 and Eisha Oden added 11. Nine different Marshalltown players scored as the entire roster saw action once the 35-point mercy rule clock went into effect in the third quarter.
DM NORTH (0-1) - Chelsie Thompson 1 0-0 3, Kenya Williams 1 3-4 5, Richelle Jimerson 3 8-10 14, Shantell Cortez 0 0-2 0, Sebrina Dixon 2 0-0 5, Mar Williams 1 0-0 2. Totals 8 11-16 29.
MHS (1-0) - Amanda Hughes 6 3-4 16, Lexi Vaughn 1 0-0 2, Ellyn Boland 0 1-5 1, Sam Hughes 1 1-2 4, Eisha Oden 4 3-11 11, Taylor Wagner 9 0-0 21, Rachel Blagg 1 1-5 3, Kali Banks 1 0-0 2, Lauren Mazour 2 3-4 7, Brittanie McGrane 0 0-2 0. Totals 25 12-33 67.
"Teams won't be able to take away one player if we keep getting production like that," Johnson said. "That was nice to see everyone get involved."
The Bobcats led 18-2 after one quarter and were in the double bonus before the first-period horn sounded. They were unable to fully take advantage though as the Bobcats struggled from the foul line all night, connecting on just 12-of-33 attempts.
That was the one thing Johnson pointed out that needs to get better as the season moves forward.
"Our team goal is 70 percent and we have been getting pretty close to that in practice," Johnson said. "We shoot free throws every day and it is unacceptable to miss that many."
Five different Bobcats scored in the first period as they led from start to finish. They converted several buckets off North turnovers as the Polar Bears had a tough time dealing with Marshalltown's full-court pressure.
"We ran one press right away, but I changed it up because I didn't think we were getting much out of it," Johnson said. "We eventually started to get some easy layups."
The only thing that kept North (0-1) in the game was the missed free throws by the Bobcats. Marshalltown was in the double bonus the entire second quarter but made just one foul shot.
Still, Marshalltown led 38-13 at the break. Oden scored seven of her 11 points in the second frame.
The Polar Bears had only one player taller than 5-foot-10 in Richelle Jimerson. Jimerson gave the Bobcats trouble early by blocking shots in the lane. But the Bobcats' ability to bury shots from outside allowed the lane to open for Oden and Lauren Mazour, and it also helped make it easier for the guards to penetrate to the bucket.
"We are not going to be able to rely on the 3-point shot every night, but we were definitely more consistent tonight with our outside shot," Johnson said. "We were able to nail some open shots and that opened things up for us down low."
Wagner buried a jumper and then connected from distance to give Marshalltown (1-0) a 50-17 advantage with 3:10 to play in the third.
Amanda Hughes triggered the running clock with a layup that made the score 56-20 and then Sam Hughes' triple in the closing seconds gave the Bobcats a 59-20 lead heading into the fourth quarter.
Johnson played everyone in the final period as North outscored the Bobcats 9-8. It gave some reserves a chance to log their first-ever varsity minutes as Lexi Vaughn and Kali Banks even converted a couple shots into points.