DES MOINES - The chances were there.
The opportunity at its first 2-0 start in five years also was there. But the Marshalltown girls' basketball team came up a little short on Tuesday against Des Moines Hoover.
The Bobcats led by as many as seven in the first half and then rallied from a nine-point deficit in the final quarter but could not finish the deal in a 51-49 loss to the Huskies.
T-R PHOTO BY TROY HYDE
MHS junior Amanda Hughes, right, takes the ball away from Des Moines Hoover guard Malaysia Duncan during the first half of the Bobcats’ conference girls’ basketball game with the Huskies. Hoover won 51-49.
"The girls work hard, but we have to work a little harder in the right spots," MHS coach Tim Johnson said. "We have to do a little better job of playing with a lead. We'll emphasize that in practice moving forward."
Senior Eisha Oden finished with a game-high 21 points for the Bobcats and senior Lauren Mazour also had 15 points inside. But Marshalltown (1-1) sorely missed its starting point guard, Taylor Wagner, who is out with bronchitis.
Wagner missed the jamboree against Hoover when the Huskies won by two but then dropped 21 points on Des Moines North in the opener last Tuesday. She wasn't diagnosed with bronchitis until after that game and was unable to suit up Tuesday night.
MHS (1-1) - Oden 10 1-1 21, Mazour 4 5-6 15, A. Hughes 3 0-0 7, S. Hughes 2 2-5 6, Boland 1 0-0 2, Rebik 0 0-2 0, McGrane 0 0-2 0. TOTALS 20 8-16 49.
Hoover (1-1) - Clark 3 1-2 8, Jung 1 1-2 3, Duncan 2 2-4 8, Larson 4 7-11 15, Robinson 1 0-0 2, Diew 6 3-4 15. TOTALS 17 14-23 51.
3-Point Goals - MHS 1 (A.Hughes). Hoover 3 (Duncan 2, Clark).
"That is at least 10-15 points that we probably would have had through the course of tonight's game," Johnson said. "She is another outside threat for us, too. That's not an excuse though. The other girls have to find ways to make plays."
The chances to make plays were there.
The game was tied at nine after one quarter, but the Bobcats controlled much of the second period as Oden and Mazour both went to work inside. They both hit big buckets in the lane and drew fouls against the Huskies that resulted in points from the line.
A Mazour jumper gave the Bobcats a 21-14 lead, but Hoover managed to trim the deficit to just two at the break as Nyakat Diew hit a couple baskets inside and Malaysia Duncan buried a triple.
"The inside play was nice tonight," Johnson said. "Lauren was able to hit some jumpers for us. She'll need to do that for us this year."
Marshalltown went back ahead by seven in the third quarter as Oden, Mazour and junior Amanda Hughes all hit consecutive buckets to make it 31-24. But like they always seemed to do, the Huskies recovered and only trailed by one heading into the final frame.
"We got lost on defense a couple of times," Johnson said. "That was the main reason we couldn't hold our leads. We couldn't find who we were guarding at the other end. We have to communicate better."
With the game tied at 37 midway through the period, the Huskies used a 9-2 run to go up seven, but the Bobcats came storming back with a 6-0 spurt of their own. Mazour scored four points during that stretch and then Hughes canned a jumper to pull the Bobcats within a deuce.
An Oden putback on the next possession made it a one-point game with 10 seconds to play, but one final shot by Oden with two seconds left fell short.
Johnson said they went to Oden with the hopes of drawing a foul or getting an easy look at the hoop. Instead, Oden put up a well-contested shot through a crowd of defenders in the lane and then the ball rolled out of bounds.
Mikayla Larson sealed the win with one final free throw for the Huskies (1-1). Larson and Diew both finished with 15 points, while Natalie Clark added eight.
Hughes finished with seven points for the Bobcats, while younger sister Sam Hughes added six points. Oden grabbed nine rebounds to go along with her 21 points, while Mazour had 15 points and five boards. Brittanie McGrane pulled down eight rebounds before leaving with an injury.
The Bobcats played well enough to win, but Johnson hopes the team quickly figures out how to come through in close games. Marshalltown was just 8-of-16 from the line, while Hoover finished 14-of-23.
"It's about passion and the want to compete better," he said.