Top-ranked Eagles tip MCC

T-R PHOTO STEPHEN KOENIGSFELD • Marshalltown CC’s Brandon Simmons (22) shoots a jump shot over a trio of Kirkwood CC defenders on Wednesday night at the Student Activity Center. The Eagles were able to hold off any sort of late drive by the Tigers and won 78-75.

For fans, Wednesday night’s contested 78-75 win for No. 1 Division II Kirkwood Community College against Marshalltown Community College, was everything they could’ve wished for. A fast-paced, high-scoring, physical affair which ended in jubilee for the Eagles (4-1) and despair for the Tigers (4-1).

But for junior high basketball ball coaches, it probably made them cringe. Lack of fundamentals, a high number of fouls and a plethora of turnovers didn’t make it the cleanest game played on a court this season. But down the stretch, despite dismal free-throw shooting and poor rebounding, the Eagles made the right plays to come out on top.

“I thought it was a hell of a college basketball game,” said Marshalltown CC coach Brynjar Brynjarsson. “Unfortunately we were on the end of it where we don’t win.”

The Tigers were up late, 61-60 after a seven-point run brought them back into the game. Jamir Coleman, who led all scorers with 26 points off Marshalltown CC’s bench, hit back-to-back 3-pointers to put his team up 72-68. But back-to-back fouls on the other end brought the lead to just one point with under two minutes to play.

“Our execution needs to be better. That was a good team that we played, we have to give them a lot of credit,” Bryjarsson said. “When we foul 23 times, it doesn’t help us at all. And [Bryon Harp] lives off the line, he was 9-for-11, and that was a big part of [the loss]. But we need to find a way to execute down the stretch.”

T-R PHOTO BY STEPHEN KOENIGSFELD • BJ Millard (5) shoots over Chris King (21) on Wednesday night in the Tigers’ 78-75 loss to Kirkwood CC. Despite leading late in the fourth quarter, the Eagles rallied back and closed out a late-game win on Marshalltown CC.

The Tigers, for the most part, did the fundamentals right. They were 9-for-9 at halftime at the free-throw line, while the Eagles were just 2-for-5. Marshalltown CC shooters finished 18-for-21 from the charity stripe, while Harp’s 82 percent mark helped the Eagles to a 16-for-23 clip.

The difference-maker in the first half, and nearly down the stretch for the Tigers, was second chance points. The Tigers had 16 offensive boards and 22 second-chance points to Kirkwood CC’s four offensive rebounds and zero second-chance points.

However, that wasn’t enough to put the Eagles at arm’s length and close out the deal.

“But at the end of the day, we shoot 39 percent in the game, we need to be better than that,” Brynjarsson said. “We need to find better shots, better shot selection, have a better flow to us.”

Forced offense rather than a smooth flow toward scoring was also a malady for the Tigers, Brynjarsson said. Shot selection and lack of communication hinder the Tigers’ efforts late.

That’s something Brynjarsson said he has to do a better job communicating to his players.

“Something we need to learn is when the game’s on the line, we need to be as sharp and focused as we can,” Brynjarsson said. “Some of the stuff down the stretch of the game, we weren’t very good. And that’s on me because we didn’t really execute what we talked about, and I need to do a better job understanding that.”

Marshalltown CC starters Mohamed Thiam – who is coming off earning the ICACC Player of the Week honor – scored 16 points and 14 rebounds for his first double-double of the year, and Brandon Simmons had 12 points with seven boards in the Tigers’ loss.

The Eagles turned around quick from their 43.3 percent shooting mark in the first half and decimated the Tigers’ defense with a 65.2 percent clip in the latter half. Marshalltown CC, however, remained consistent, shooting 38.7 and 39.4 percent in the two periods.

“We didn’t have the flow to us,” Brynjarsson said about the Tigers’ performance coming out of halftime. “We didn’t push the ball hard enough after makes and misses and so forth. At the end of the day, it’s a loss and we learn from it.”

Up next for MCC is its Emerson Classic this weekend. MCC will face St. John’s Academy on Friday at 7 p.m., then Iowa Central on Saturday at 7 p.m. The Tigers will see Kirkwood again on Jan. 11 in Cedar Rapids.

Kirkwood CC 78, Marshalltown CC 75

Kirkwood CC (4-1) — Harp 6-11 9-11 22, Wentzien 2-5 4-4 9, Fagan 5-9 1-2 12, Marble 5-7 0-0 13, D. King 5-8 1-1 11, Triplett 2-2 0-0 4, Jackson 2-3 0-0 4, Meeker 1-3 0-3 2, C. King 0-4 1-2 1, Henry 0-0 0-0 0, Moore 0-1 0-0 0. TOTALS 28-53 6-16 16-23 78.

MCC (4-1) — Mensah 1-5 3-6 5, Thiam 6-16 2-2 16, Millard 3-5 0-0 7, Coffi 1-2 2-2 4, Simmons 4-7 4-4 12, Mozee 0-0 0-0 0, Coleman 8-22 7-7 26, Huaser 1-4 0-0 2, Gradwell 1-3 0-0 3, Karadan 0-

0 0-0 0. TOTALS 25-64 7-24 18-21 75.

Halftime–MCC 36, KCC 30. 3-Point Goals–KCC 6-16 (Marble 3-4, Harp 1-2, Wentzien 1-3, Fagan 1-3, Jackson 0-1, C. King 0-1, Meeker 0-2), MCC 7-24 (Coleman 3-8, Thiam 2-8, Millard 1-2, Gradwell 1-3, Simmons 0-1, Hauser 0-2). Assists–KCC 12 (Harp 6), MCC 10 (Mensah, Millard 3). Rebounds–KCC 28 (Wentzien 6), MCC 43 (Thiam 14). Total Fouls–KCC 20, MCC 23. Fouled Out–MCC Coleman. A–325.