Cougars collect first win of calendar year

T-R PHOTO BY STEPHEN KOENIGSFELD • AGWSR’s Alex Hames shoots a 3-pointer over West Marshall’s Cameron Bannister during Friday night’s NICL West Division game in Ackley. Hames made one 3-pointer in the Cougars 60-57 win.

ACKLEY — For the first time this year, the AGWSR boys’ basketball team marked a win.

OK, that’s a loaded statement, seeing how the Cougars (6-3, 4-1 NICL West) have lost their last three games by no more than five points each.

AGWSR was able to come from behind and best West Marshall 60-57 at home Friday night for the first win of 2017. The triumph comes on the heels of three-game losing skid which started on Dec. 22 when Wapsie Valley nailed a buzzer-beating 3-pointer to win 49-48.

Cougars head coach Russ Banzhaf said flat play led to the 46-44 loss at Janesville on Jan. 2 and a 47-42 overtime loss to No. 1 Gladbrook-Reinbeck set the stage for an anticipated rematch later this month.

“We’ve been in a lot of close games, and that’s just our style,” Banzhaf said. “But that’s just our style. We’re not a big fastbreak team, or a big press team. But we’ve got to try and mix that in, try to get some easy baskets. We’re trying to do that a little bit more. That’s just the nature of the beast, though.

T-R PHOTO BY STEPHEN KOENIGSFELD

“I told the kids things tend to even out. We haven’t gotten breaks in the past three games, and it’s a long year. And I’ve seen when those breaks even out. A lot of times, you’re got to make your own breaks, and you do that by playing hard.”

The Cougars, indeed, made their own break. With 5:51 left in the second half, the Cougars found themselves on the brink of a fourth consecutive loss. Alex Dickey, who finished with 12 points, just hit back-to-back 3-pointers to go up 51-43.

But a 12-0 run started by back-to-back Nathan Karsjens buckets propelled the Cougars right back into the game. AGWSR offense outscored the Trojans (4-6, 3-3 NICL West) 17-6 in the final five and a half minutes, despite missing four free throws down the stretch.

In fact, the Trojans had a chance to tie with 3.2 seconds remaining after Tate Hofmeister missed two free throws, but a Karsjens offensive board sealed the deal.

“Their height advantage just got to us at the end,” said West Marshall head coach Paul deNeui. “They were able to throw over top of us and catch it and throw it right to [Karsjens] or they could kick it out and they’d hit it.

“We’re getting closer, we just can’t quite get over the hedge,” deNeui said. “We’re going to continue to work at it, it’s just becoming a bit of a tough thing to do.”

The Trojans have lost a couple of close games they’ve been in thick of it late. A contested game with Class 2A No. 9 South Hamilton ended in a 52-37 loss, while six-point and seven-point losses kicked off the season against Dike-New Hartford and East Marshall.

David Disney was the best combat to Karsjens’ height, scoring 18 points and including a third-quarter buzzer-beater 3 to put the Trojans up 43-41.

Cameron Bannister had 13 points to accompany Disney and Dickey.

AGWSR was led by Jay Janssen’s 21 points. He hit three 3-pointers and eight field-goals overall. Janssen was the main perimeter threat when the Trojan defense would collapse on Karsjens. The senior big man had 15 points and Mason Eilderts tallied 11.

Up next for the Cougars is a home game against the Top of Iowa Conference’s Rockford at home today, with road games at South Hardin and at Grundy Center on Tuesday and Friday.

West Marshall heads to Meskwaki on Tuesday while hosting East Marshall on Friday.

AGWSR 60, West Marshall 57

WEST MARSHALL (4-6, 3-3) — Beau Coberley 3 0-0 7, Alex Dickey 4 0-0 12, Cole Baccam 0 0-0 0, Cameron Bannister 5 0-0 13, David Disney 6 5-8 18, Chandler Sponseller 0 0-0 0, Josh Larsen1 0-0 2, Joe Halverson 2 0-0 5. TOTALS 16 5-8 57.

AGWSR (6-3, 4-1) — Tate Hofmeister 0 2-5 2, Jay Janssen 8 1-4 21, Mason Eilderts 5 1-1 11, Caleb Bartling 2 0-0 4, Nathan Karsjens 5 3-4 15, Alex Hames 2 0-0 5, Brent Janssen 0 0-0 0, Aaron Roelfs 0 0-0 0, Ethan Ubben 1 0-0 2. TOTALS 16 6-13 60.

WM 15 12 16 14 — 57

AGWSR 14 13 14 19 — 60

3-Point Goals–WM 7 (Dickey 4, Coberley, Dickey, Halverson), AGWSR 6 (Janssen 3, Karsjens 2, Hames). Totals Fouls–WM 13, AGWSR 10. Fouled Out–None.