Hawks hold off West Marshall

South Hamilton pulls away from host Trojans 52-37

STATE CENTER — Despite falling in their third-straight contest, head coach Paul deNeui and the West Marshall boys’ basketball team have a feeling a big win is around the corner. But for now, the Trojans will have to settle for progress rather than victory, after a 52-37 loss to South Hamilton on Saturday night.

Marco Balderas had 15 points on four made 3-pointers and Collin Hill had 14 points to help pace the Hawks (2-0) past the Trojans (0-3). West Marshall was led by Joe Halverson’s 11 points on three made 3-pointers.

Hill averaged 25 points per game coming into Saturday night’s contest, but was held to just seven points in the first half — in fact, he was scoreless through the entire second quarter and seven minutes of the third quarter. West Marshall head coach Paul deNeui said their lockdown, 2-3 zone defense made sure Hill wouldn’t be a threat inside.

“We knew he was going to cut to the hoop all the time, because he’s not the greatest outside shooter,” deNeui said. “And I wouldn’t be when I’m that tall and can jump out of the gym. So we were making sure he wouldn’t cut. We did a good job in the first half; we lost him in the second half, and that kind of hurt us.”

For nearly 16 minutes of playing time, Hill was held scoreless as he picked up a pair of offensive fouls. But it was perimeter shooting by the Hawks that kept the Trojans at bay.

South Hamilton shooters made eight 3-pointers, with Balderas leading the way. Cole Berg had another three, while Conner Hill knocked down two in the first half and Colton Coy hit another to prevent any kind of West Marshall comeback.

A 15-2 run at the beginning of the game didn’t set a generous pace for the Trojans. But slowly, they fought back to within six to eight points a handful of times. When the Trojans would close to two possessions, any South Hamilton player who stepped up to launch a run-halting 3-pointer, did so.

“Every time we’d start to get a bit closer, they’d hit a big 3,” deNeui said. “It’s just not getting out to that 3-point shooter when they can. We’ve got to do a better job of doing that. We went in at halftime and talked about how [Conner] Hill can shoot the 3, and this Balderas kid can shoot the 3. We had to make sure to get out on those two, but once again, we concentrated on [Collin] Hill going to the hoop, and then lose those [perimeter] guys. When you have an outside and inside game like they do, it’s tough on a zone.”

West Marshall fought back to within five, opening the third quarter on a 5-0 run, down just 33-28. But back-to-back 3-pointers made it 11, and the Trojans couldn’t get close again.

For deNeui, the season isn’t sugarcoated in any way. Three losses by six, seven and now 15 points have all been within grasp, but missed opportunities on easy baskets have let those games get away.

“For us, it’s frustrating,” deNeui said. “It’s a frustrating thing. The kids are frustrated because they know we’re there, but we’re not quite there. And we don’t know how to get over the hump. But once we figure it out, we’re going to take off.”

David Disney had seven points in the loss, going 3-for-4 from the charity stripe; both Beau Coberley and Cameron Bannister had six points apiece and Alex Dickey had five in the contest.

Bench players Chandler Sponseller and Josh Larsen contributed with a point apiece, and served as tough physical presences against Collin Hill in their 2-3 zone defense.

The schedule doesn’t get any easier, with an assumable ranked Gladbrook-Reinbeck coming to town on Tuesday. Boys’ high school rankings come out later today.

South Hamilton 52, West Marshall 37

S. HAMILTON (2-0) — Marcus Balderas 4 1-4 15, Logan Klemp 1 0-0 2, Logan Peters 0 1-2 1, Collin Hill 6 2-3 14, Connor Hill 4 0-1 10, Cole Berg 1 0-0 3, Colton Coy 2 0-0 5, Jared Ullestad 0 0-0 0, Zeke Balderas 0 0-0 0, Cade Balvanz 0 1-2 1, Jordan McSparin 0 0-0 0. TOTALS 19 6-14 52.

W. MARSHALL (0-3) — Beau Coberley 2 2-2 6, Alex Dickey 2 0-0 5, Cole Baccam 0 0-0 0, Cameron Bannister 3 0-1 6, Dvid Disney 2 3-4 7, Chandler Sponseller 0 1-2 1, Michael Doe 0 0-0 0, Josh Larsen 0 1-4 1, Mark Van Metre 0 0-0 0, Joe Halverson 4 0-0 11, Peter Wilkinson 0 0-0 0. TOTALS 13, 7-13 37.

SH    20    12    11    9    —    52

WM     10    13    9    5    —    37

3-Point Goals–SH 8 (M. Balderas 4, Conner Hill 2, Berg, Coy), WM 4 (Halverson 3, Dickey). Total Fouls–SH 17, WM 18. Fouled out–None.