Bobcats outlast Mason City
Each of the last four games for the Marshalltown boys basketball team have been close contests down the stretch that the Bobcats either owned a lead in or were within one possession, but ultimately weren’t able to close out.
It was a similar situation on Friday night at the Roundhouse in a CIML Iowa Conference matchup with Mason City, as MHS entered the fourth quarter up 46-42 after overcoming a two-point halftime deficit.
Unlike the last four games, however, the Bobcats came up big when they needed to in the fourth and held off the Mohawk advance, taking a 63-59 win to snap their four-game losing skid and earn their second win of the season.
Marshalltown head coach Scott Smith said his guys have worked exponentially harder after every close loss early this season, and seeing them pull out the win on Friday night was a joy for he and the rest of the coaching staff.
“I just give the kids so much credit, they really deserve this,” he said. “They really made a commitment in the summer and the fall to really get better, and that’s what the game is all about. It’s about the kids making plays, and they really deserve this win just because they work so hard.”
Senior Luke Appel was the catalyst for the big fourth quarter by the Bobcats (2-4, 1-1), scoring 10 of his game-high 22 points in the final frame, but unlike previous games this season Appel wasn’t the only scoring threat for the Bobcats.
Senior Josh Melde started the game strong with nine points in the first half, while sophomore Austin Shomo hit three 3-pointers in the second quarter, four total in the game, and junior Jacob Smith added in a trio of treys as well to help the scoring effort.
All three of those starters finished in the double-digit scoring column for Marshalltown, the first time all season they’ve had four players in double figures, and Appel said knowing what the other guys had done throughout the game gave him even more confidence in his ability to close out the final quarter.
“Everyone else was playing well and that kept us in the game, and then I just knew I had to keep trying to do my job and get offensive rebounds, which started bouncing my way in the fourth quarter,” he said. “I just got the rebounds and put them back in, score any way I can.”
Coach Smith said this was the best his offense has looked all season, especially with how well spread the scoring was throughout the night.
“If you look at the best teams at any level, from junior high all the way to the NBA, it’s that balanced scoring,” Smith said. “I just thought everyone shared the ball, you can’t outrun the basketball, they shared the ball by making extra passes and they trusted their teammates. It’s just really the first time for four quarters offensively that I thought the kids really were a unit. It’s a long season and there are ups and downs, but if we can continue to do that and share the ball and trust each other on both ends, I think this group has great potential.”
The offense was clicking, but it was the Bobcats’ defensive effort in the third quarter that really flipped this game into their favor. Marshalltown only allowed six Mohawk points out of halftime, something they’ve made a habit over the last few games.
Against Des Moines Roosevelt last Tuesday, the Roughriders only scored eight points in the third quarter while the Bobcats made a comeback, and it was a similar story against Fort Dodge where MHS only allowed 12 third-quarter points.
Smith said what has helped his team is just used to coming out strong after halftime, and there isn’t really much adjusting that they do on the coaching end.
“There’s no magic potion, it’s just really falling back on your discipline and fundamentals,” he said. “We struggled at the end of the second quarter tonight, Luke got into foul trouble and we had to take him out and they outscored us 9-0, so they could have hung their heads or said ‘man we let them back in the game,’ but they didn’t. They came out with even more fire in their bellies and they responded really well.”
Looking ahead, the Bobcats have two games left before heading out for winter break, starting with a road matchup against Ottumwa on Monday. Appel said if the rest of the team can keep scoring like they did on Friday night, he thinks Marshalltown can enter the break at .500.
“They do it in practice all the time and they finally all got it going,” Appel said. “Last game we had Jacob get it going and the games before we just had Josh, this time they all got going and that’s why we came out on top and hopefully we can keep that going for our next two games before winter break and finish out at 4-4.”
Smith said there is still work to be done before the Bobcats can pull out the next two wins, but it will be much better preparing for the next games after tasting victory yet again.
“We have to keep working, we have two games coming up next week so we are going to enjoy this and have a good practice tomorrow,” he said. “Prep for Ottumwa, but I think this will give the kids a lot of confidence.”
Marshalltown takes on the Bulldogs starting at 7:45 p.m. on Tuesday in Ottumwa.
Marshalltown 63, Mason City 59
MASON CITY (1-6, 0-2) — Dylan Miller 5 2-4 14, Jarvorious Toney 7 2-2 17, Jake Rood 2 0-0 5, Avery Mellman 3 0-0 5, Ben Pappas 5 0-0 10, Brandon Hewett 0 0-0 0, Ryan Smuck 3 1-2 7, Danny Kamm 0 0-0 0, Jordan Brown 0 0-0 0. TOTALS 25 5-8 59.
MARSHALLTOWN (2-4, 1-1) — Austin Shomo 5 0-0 14, Josh Melde 5 3-5 15, Bennett O’Hare 0 1-6 1, Jacob Smith 3 2-2 11, Luke Appel 9 4-5 22, Conner Beaty 0 0-0 0, Sam Irwin 0 0-0 0, Makeer Kuony 0 0-0 0. TOTALS 22 10-18 63.
Mason City 14 22 6 17 — 59
MHS 14 20 12 17 — 63
3-Point Goals–MC 4 (Miller 2, Toney, Rood), MHS 9 (Shomo 4, Smith 3, Melde 2). Total Fouls–MC 19, MHS 12. Fouled Out–Mellman.