Appel’s 31 helps ’Cats snap eight-game skid

Luke Appel

MASON CITY — The confluence of Marshalltown’s focused defensive effort and Mason City’s leading scorer sitting because of foul trouble formed the first Bobcat victory of 2018.

The Marshalltown boys’ basketball team held Mason City scoreless for a pair of four-minute stretches in the second half to break free from the Mohawks in an eventual 64-56 victory in Friday’s CIML Iowa Conference rematch.

The Bobcats, who won the first meeting 63-59 more than a month ago, snapped a seven-game losing streak with the victory. MHS (5-11, 2-6) outscored Mason City (3-13, 1-7) by a 35-27 margin in the second half to overtake the Mohawks and complete the season sweep.

Bobcat senior Luke Appel scored a game-high 31 points to help his team break a cold spell that started with the flip of the calendar.

“It feels great, it makes that long bus ride back to Marshalltown so much nicer,” said MHS head coach Scott Smith. “Our kids really responded. Basketball is such a long season and you have your ups and downs … but the kids came back and had a great week of practice and our flow on offense was as good as it’s been all year, we hammered on our shell defense and this was our most consistent game all year.”

Mason City’s 56 points is the fewest the Bobcats had allowed since their last win, back on Dec. 19, 2017, against Des Moines East.

This contest was a back-and-forth affair with Mason City leading 43-41 midway through the third quarter before Marshalltown started its first of two decisive runs. The Mohawks didn’t score again for nearly four minutes, with Jordan Brown breaking the slump, but another drought began immediately as Marshalltown pulled out to a 56-45 lead thanks to a 9-0 surge.

After Avery Mellman snapped Mason City’s scoreless slide with 3:16 to play, Jacob Smith scored Marshalltown’s final seven points — on a 3-pointer and a handful of free throws — to seal the Bobcats’ first win in more than a month.

“We felt scoring [against Mason City] would not be an issue, but we had to get stops,” coach Smith said. “[Dylan] Miller was really hurting us, but more importantly was our team commitment to defense, closing down driving lanes and contesting every shot and giving up no second-chance shots.”

Miller led Mason City with 19 points, though 12 of them came before halftime as foul trouble plagued him after the break. Mellman added 14 for the Mohawks.

Behind Appel’s big night was Smith’s 14. Josh Melde finished with eight points, Austin Shomo made a pair of 3-pointers for six points and Bennett O’Hare added five.

“I thought overall that’s the way we want to play,” coach Smith added. “It was just a great team effort.”

Marshalltown has a week off to ready itself for Class 4A No. 10 Johnston, which beat the Bobcats 76-53 three weeks ago.

Marshalltown 63, Mason City 56

At Mason City

MARSHALLTOWN (5-11, 2-6) — Austin Shomo 2 0-0 6, Josh Melde 3 1-2 8, Bennett O’Hare 1 3-6 5, Jacob Smith 4 5-9 14, Luke Appel 14 2-3 31, Conner Beaty 0 0-0 0, Makeer Kuony 0 0-0 0. TOTALS 24 11-20 64.

MASON CITY (3-13, 1-7) — Dylan Miller 7 4-4 19, Jake Rood 1 0-0 3, Jordan Brown 2 0-0 5, Jeffery Skogen 2 1-2 7, Avery Mellman 5 2-2 14, Brandon Hewell 0 0-0 0, Javorious Toney 3 1-1 8, Ben Pappas 0 0-0 0. TOTALS 20 8-9 56.

MHS 15 13 17 18 — 63

MASON CITY 12 17 14 13 — 56

3-Point Goals–MHS 5 (Shomo 2, Melde, Smith, Appel), MC 8 (Skogen 2, Mellman 2, Miller, Toney, Rood, Brown). Total Fouls–MHS 10, MC 21. Fouled Out–Rood.