Colo-NESCO clips Tigers, 48-46

T-R PHOTO BY THORN COMPTON • Colo-NESCO senior Matthew Hill, behind, goes up for a block on a shot from South Hardin’s Cade Spieker during the first half of the Royals’ close 48-46 win over the Tigers on Thursday.

T-R PHOTO BY THORN COMPTON • Colo-NESCO senior Matthew Hill, behind, goes up for a block on a shot from South Hardin’s Cade Spieker during the first half of the Royals’ close 48-46 win over the Tigers on Thursday.

COLO — It was an intense battle on Thursday night between two cross-divisional powers, as the Colo-NESCO boys basketball team from the Iowa Star Conference South Division welcomed in NICL West Division stalwart South Hardin for a contest before heading into winter break.

As was expected between two strong teams, the game came down to the final possession, but in the end the Royals were able to hold off the Tiger advance and head into break with a 48-46 win over their area rivals.

Colo-NESCO head coach Patrick Wynja said this game was a little too close for comfort, especially given how the team had just lost to Baxter on a last-second shot only two days prior.

“We just lost a close one on Tuesday and it was the same type of thing, we made mental errors down the stretch throwing the ball away just like tonight, but luckily we came up on the right end,” Wynja said. “It was a sinking feeling on that last shot after last Tuesday.”

The Royals (6-2) actually owned a 26-20 lead heading into halftime, thanks to some tough defense and a late 3-pointer by Sean Cutler, but South Hardin (5-4) stormed back in the third quarter to tie things up at 37-all heading to the fourth.

T-R PHOTO BY THORN COMPTON • South Hardin’s Kevin Rewoldt (55) goes up for two points in the middle of the Colo-NESCO defense during Thursday’s non-conference game in Colo. Rewoldt finished with nine points in the Tigers’ loss.

T-R PHOTO BY THORN COMPTON • South Hardin’s Kevin Rewoldt (55) goes up for two points in the middle of the Colo-NESCO defense during Thursday’s non-conference game in Colo. Rewoldt finished with nine points in the Tigers’ loss.

Tigers head coach Nathan Gevelinger said his guys played a tough and physical game, but in the end it was taking a few plays off on the defensive end that did them in.

“I thought we took some breaks defensively and they made us pay. We took a break at the end of the first half and [Cutler] hit that three,” Gevelinger said. “That’s what we harp on, those little things. We can’t take a break, we can not take a break defensively and offensively we have to attack. At times we were content with just dribbling it around at the 3-point line and that’s not going to get it done.”

Senior Matthew Hill was the star for Colo-NESCO on the night, going for 23 points and nine rebounds, all of which he earned facing a tough defensive matchup in 6-foot-8 South Hardin center Kevin Rewoldt.

Hill said facing a guy who can protect the paint like Rewoldt was a challenge, but guys like Philip Bower were able to deliver him the ball in areas that he could be successful.

“I just had to finish a little higher and it really helped that Philip was able to dish it to me and I could get some alley-oops and easy buckets, that’s what helped a lot,” Hill said.

T-R PHOTO BY THORN COMPTON

T-R PHOTO BY THORN COMPTON

Wynja said Hill had a fantastic game against a guy who does such a good job altering shots.

“That’s a tough matchup when you have a 6-foot-8 man, that was a man among boys, and they were a tough guard tonight,” Wynja said. “Their two little guards did a good job of attacking and they made a couple threes on us, but we did just enough. Rebounding was probably the toughest against that team with just those big kids just flying to the ball, but our kids battled. It was a good physical, that’s what we needed before going into break because we have a really tough schedule coming up. Hopefully we will be ready.”

Other than Hill, Jacob Clatt had 10 points, essentially all in the paint as well, while Bower ended the game with nine points and six assists.

The Tigers were led by freshman Garrison Tripp, who had 13 points as well as some nifty passes to get other players involved. Tripp had a shot in the fourth quarter that would have put the Tigers up by three, but he couldn’t connect and the Royals immediately scored after, but Gevelinger said he has absolutely no problem with Tripp pulling up from distance.

“I told him ‘that says a lot that we trust you,’ and I will let him shoot that time and time and time again,” Gevelinger said. “He was very calm, he was steady and the moment didn’t get too big for him. I am so proud of him battling through, he’s not a freshman anymore in my eyes, he’s grown past that.”

Jacob Vander Wilt was the next-best scorer for South Hardin with 12 points, while Rewoldt had nine in the loss.

Both teams are now off until after the start of the new year, and Wynja said over the break his team has some growing to do, specifically on the offensive end.

“Our offense needs to get a lot better, we are still not there. Defensively we have done a good job when we are rebounding, but hopefully over break we can figure out more offensively,” Wynja said. “I feel good about the kids, we have kids that work hard and want to improve, so what more can I ask for?”

As for where the Tigers stand at the break, Gevelinger said he thinks the break will do some good for his squad, and he thinks they will come back ready to get after it in 2018.

“I feel like we are going to take a momentous leap over this Christmas break,” Gevelinger said. “I think we are just going to get even better defensively and I think we may tweak our offense a little bit and put in a few new wrinkles but I love the team that I see right now and we are going to get even better come January into February.”

When Colo-NESCO returns, they will do so in a game against Dunkerton that will be played in Wells Fargo Arena in Des Moines on Jan. 2. Hill said that will be a good test to truly see how the Royals are progressing.

“I think we are looking pretty good, when we play Dunkerton in our first game back that’s going to be a tough one so we have to be focused and come out strong,” the senior said.

Tickets for that game between both Colo-NESCO squads and Dunkerton are only available through today at the school. They are $8 per person and are good for both the girls and boys games, as well as the Iowa Wolves NBA G League game against the Oklahoma City Blues later that night.

Colo-NESCO 48, South Hardin 46

At Colo

SOUTH HARDIN (5-4) — Jacob Vander Wilt 4 2-4 12, Cauy Teske 0 0-0 0, Kaleb Roling 3 0-0 6, Cade Spieker 2 2-5 6, Kevin Rewoldt 4 1-4 9, Tanner Lawrence 0 0-0 0, Garrison Tripp 5 2-3 13. TOTALS 18 7-16 46.

COLO-NESCO (6-2) — Kelly Gray 0 0-0 0, Philip Bower 3 3-4 9, Sean Cutler 1 0-0 3, Matthew Hill 9 5-8 23, Jacob Clatt 4 2-3 10, Mason Lytle 1 0-0 2, Bryce Niemeyer 0 1-6 1. TOTALS 18 10-21 48.

South Hardin 8 12 17 9 — 46

Colo-NESCO 11 15 12 11 — 48

3-Point Goals–SH 3 (Vander Wilt 2, Tripp), CN 2 (Cutler, Clatt). Total Fouls–SH 18, CN 20. Fouled Out–none.