Jags pull away from MHS
At the start of the second half of Tuesday’s game between the Marshalltown boys basketball team and Ankeny Centennial, the Jaguars held on to a slim three-point lead.
The Bobcats roared out to start the third quarter to take back the lead, but eventually Centennial retook the lead and never lost it, handing MHS its first loss of the season, 65-55.
After the game, Marshalltown head coach Scott Smith said his boys played tough on Tuesday but ultimately the Jaguars made more plays in the Bobcats’ home opener.
“For the most part, I thought the kids played hard tonight,” Smith said. “It’s a game of runs and we had a little stretch there where we came out in the second half with great energy, but then they made some adjustments and we really had a few breakdowns on the defensive end allowing offensive rebounds and putbacks. That was really a difference in the game, but overall I am pleased with the kids’ effort, they played hard and there are always things to work on early in the year but I can’t be disappointed in the effort they gave.”
Though they were down double digits midway through the fourth quarter, the MHS (1-1) boys never quite gave in, making Ankeny Centennial (1-2) work for every point they earned and putting the pressure on the scoring end.
Senior Luke Appel came alive in the fourth, scoring 17 of his game-high 23 points in the frame, and Smith said the way his guys handled play late in the game was good to see for future opponents.
“We work on those late-game situations all the time and that’s great because we know that we are going to be in a lot of close games,” he said. “There are so many even matches and honestly that could be the difference in the outcome of the game.”
While Appel only had six points before the fourth quarter, he was doing everything else on the court, pulling down important rebounds and even handling the ball as point guard at times.
Smith said Appel has a great skillset to use, which both the Marshalltown coaches and opposing teams know all too well.
“He’s such a versatile and great player, obviously what every team is going to be out to do is to shut him down, but I thought the first half we did a really good job of moving without the ball,” Smith said. “Even on the first play, he got double-teamed and kicked it to Josh (Melde) for a layup.”
The reality is Appel will be keyed on pretty much in every game the Bobcats play this season, and Smith said the offense has to perform better around the stellar senior if it wants to score buckets.
“I thought at times our flow and rhythm offensively was stagnant, and that’s one thing we will continue to work on, just moving without the ball,” Smith said. “He is going to be double or even triple-teamed a lot, so those are things we have worked on and will continue to work on. It’s really hard to simulate that size and athleticism in practice, but that being said this is a great group to coach and they have high basketball I.Q.s.”
Only one other player for the Bobcats scored in double figures on the night, with senior Josh Melde scoring 11 against Centennial. Three Jaguars had double-digit scoring nights, led by Hunter Strait with 18.
In Marshalltown’s opener against Ankeny, three athletes made it into double figures, and Smith said the team needs that kind of effort again moving forward.
“The other night we had great balance scoring, but tonight we only had one other in double figures,” he said. “We want to balance that out when we can so we have three or four guys in double figures, but that’s a work in progress and something we will continue to work on.”
Of course the season is still very young, considering the Bobcats have only played two games this season, and players like sophomore Austin Shomo and junior Bennett O’Hare are still getting used to the varsity level. Smith said as the season progresses, his guys will figure out their strengths and weaknesses and they will be a better team for it.
“That was the message after the game, yes there is stuff to work on but they have nothing to be ashamed of or hang their heads about,” Smith said. “Just keep working hard and getting better, we can’t feel sorry for ourselves because we have a quality opponent on Thursday. And these guys won’t, they are confident and will come back and give it everything they have and we will just keep getting better and better.”
Marshalltown next travels to Newton to face the rival Cardinals on Thursday, starting at 7:45 p.m.
Ankeny Centennial 65, Marshalltown 55
ANKENY CENTENNIAL (1-2) — Zach Kluver 2 2-2 6, Brandon Van Meter 2 0-2 4, Jackson Brannan 1 4-4 7, Hunter Strait 4 9-11 18, Micah Johnson 6 2-4 14, Lathan Brandt 0 0-0 0, Preston Kelling 4 1-3 10, Ben Breeding 1 2-2 4, Carter Bachman 1 0-0 2. TOTALS 21 20-28 65.
MARSHALLTOWN (1-1) — Austin Shomo 1 0-0 3, Josh Melde 3 3-3 11, Bennett O’Hare 1 3-4 6, Jacob Smith 3 2-2 9, Luke Appel 7 9-12 23, Conner Beaty 1 0-0 3, Sam Irwin 0 0-0 0. TOTALS 16 17-20 55.
Centennial 12 11 16 26 — 65
MHS 10 10 12 23 — 55
3-Point Goals–AC 3 (Brannan, Strait, Johnson), MHS 6 (Melde 2, Beaty, Shomo, O’Hare, Smith). Total Fouls–AC 19, MHS 22. Fouled Out–Breeding, O’Hare.