Coach Brynjar Brynjarsson reminded his club that the sign of a good team is one that continues to make the hustle play when things aren't going right.
There was no such opportunity for the Tigers Tuesday.
Bringing a high intensity from the opening tip, the Marshalltown Community College men's basketball team (9-0) cruised to a double-digit lead less than 10 minutes in and never let off the gas in an 87-58 rout over Highland CC at the Student Activity Center.
T-R PHOTO BY TYLER STRAND
MCC’s Stephon Edwards (33) throws down a dunk for two of his 13 points in the Tigers’ 87-58 rout over Highland CC at the Student Activity Center Tuesday. Coming off the bench, Edwards was one of four Tigers to reach double figures as MCC improved to 9-0.
"We talked about how the first five minutes was going to set the tone. But at the same time, we had guys come in (later) and give us the same effort, there was no drop off," said Brynjarsson, whose squad forced a turnover on five of the Cougars' (3-2) first six possessions.
"Even when there were mistakes made on offense, the solid play from everybody allowed us to extend our lead."
Raheim Holloway buried a wide-open trey to cap an 8-0 run extending MCC's advantage to 25-11 with 9:39 left in the first. The Tigers' lead never dipped below double figures from there as MCC mounted a 9-0 flurry to close the half. Terrell Clyburn, one of 10 Tigers to score in the opening stanza, tipped in a missed layup before the buzzer to widen the margin to 42-22 at the break.
HIGHLAND (3-2) - Keyes 1-4 1-2 3, Williams 1-4 0-1 2, Onwenu 1-5 0-0 3, Andrews 10-17 0-0 22, Amazan 5-12 6-9 17, Oliver 0-4 0-0 0, Parkes 1-2 2-4 4, Thiero 1-1 0-0 2, McNease 2-4 0-0 4. Totals 22-53 10-18 58.
MCC (9-0) - Caird 5-14 4-5 17, Gatali 1-4 2-2 4, Carter 3-5 0-1 6, Holloway 4-4 0-1 10, Delinac 5-10 5-8 15, Clyburn 1-1 0-0 2, Kelly 0-0 0-0 0, M. Williams 1-3 1-2 3, Robinson 1-1 0-0 2, Edwards 4-5 5-6 13, Adair 2-8 0-1 4, Coleman 2-5 3-4 7, Strong 2-2 0-0 4, Brue 0-1 0-0 0. Totals 31-63 20-30 87.
Halftime - MCC 42-22. 3-Point Goals - Highland 4-12 (Andrews 2-3, Onwenu 1-1, Amazan 1-4, Parkes 0-1, McNease 0-1, Williams 0-2); MCC 5-13 (Caird 3-6, Holloway 2-2, Gatali 0-1, Brue 0-1, Delinac 0-3). Fouled Out - Onwenu. Rebounds - Highland 22 (Williams 6), MCC 38 (Delinac 8). Total Fouls - Highland 23, MCC 19.
While the offense was firing on all cylinders, converting field goals at 49 percent clip, and the Tigers' play at the other end continued to fuel their effort.
"Our main strength is our defense. We knew our offense would come so we just had to find their scorers and lock on to them," said Matej Delinac, who finished with 15 points and eight boards for the Tigers.
A 3 from Patrick Onwenu and a bucket from Deon Andrews, who posted a game-high 22 points, narrowed the lead to 42-27 early in the second half, but the Tigers quickly countered. Chris Caird and Holloway knocked down back-to-back treys to push the lead to 21.
Despite the sizable cushion, the Tigers' effort never wavered as MCC continued to take charges, dive for loose balls and work the boards the entire night where they held a 38-22 advantage on the glass. Stephon Edwards led the second unit pouring in 11 of his 13 points in the final frame was one of four Tigers to reach double figures.
"There wasn't a guy that wasn't ready to play," said Brynjarsson.
"They're on the same mission that they have to win together."
Caird paced the home team early with 13 points in the first half and finished with 17, while Holloway chipped in 10.
Highland tried to change things up with a full-court press midway through the second half but a three-point play from Delinac and one-hand tomahawk from Edwards put an abrupt end to that strategy. The Tigers' lead stretched to 35 at 86-51 with just more than a minute remaining as 12 different players got on the board for MCC. Jeff Amazan tallied 17 points for the Cougars.
"It all started with the bench. The bench kept us hyped," said Lamont Adair.
While nearly everything went in the Tigers' favor, Brynjarsson pointed out that sooner or later his club will need to be ready for the flip side.
"It's real easy to play the game when everything is going well. On a given night, something is not going to go well for us," said Brynjarsson.
"That's when the sign of a good team comes into play. When we're not playing well, do we still have the same identity? Do we still have that focus of what we need to accomplish?"
The Tigers host County Upper Academy Saturday at 7 p.m.