J-Hawks cool off Bobcats

Urbandale ends Marshalltown’s winning streak

T-R PHOTO BY THORN COMPTON • Marshalltown senior Reid Nennig (34) attempts to block a shot from Urbandale’s Alex Economos (14) during the second half of the Bobcats’ 58-43 road loss to the J-Hawks on Tuesday night.

T-R PHOTO BY THORN COMPTON • Marshalltown senior Reid Nennig (34) attempts to block a shot from Urbandale’s Alex Economos (14) during the second half of the Bobcats’ 58-43 road loss to the J-Hawks on Tuesday night.

URBANDALE — After heading into the winter break on a hot 3-0 streak to pull back to an even 4-4 record, the Marshalltown boys’ basketball team went into a road CIML Iowa Conference matchup against Urbandale on Tuesday night looking to pick up where it left off two weeks ago. It seemed, however, the temperature wasn’t the only thing that cooled off since the Bobcats last played.

The J-Hawks used a strong fourth quarter to finally pull away from MHS, securing a 58-43 victory that was only a two-point lead after the third frame.

Marshalltown head coach Scott Smith said his guys played a fine game for the first 24 minutes, but they didn’t get it done in final eight.

“It was a two-point game going into that fourth quarter and we just didn’t finish well,” he said. “We just struggled with our outside shooting tonight, we had been shooting the ball really well. It’s not a knock on anybody, I just thought Urbandale had a little too much for us tonight and at times I don’t think we played with the defensive intensity that we need.”

Urbandale (4-4, 1-2) hit six shots from behind the 3-point line, three of which came from leading scorer Ben DeKruyf, while Marshalltown (4-5, 1-2) only managed to drop in two from downtown, something that had buoyed the Bobcats during their recent win streak.

T-R PHOTO BY THORN COMPTON • Marshalltown senior Makeer Kuony (52) hauls in a rebound over Urbandale’s Alex Economos during the first half of the Bobcats’ 58-43 loss to the J-Hakws on Tuesday night.

T-R PHOTO BY THORN COMPTON • Marshalltown senior Makeer Kuony (52) hauls in a rebound over Urbandale’s Alex Economos during the first half of the Bobcats’ 58-43 loss to the J-Hakws on Tuesday night.

Smith said the team’s inability to hit shots from deep got in the players’ heads a bit and affected their effort on the other end of the court.

“We missed some shots and I thought that affected our defense in the fourth quarter, and we just lost our composure a little bit and didn’t finish well tonight,” Smith said.

DeKruyf finished with 15 points to lead the J-Hawks, while Henry Drake had 14 and Anthony Costello made his presence known in the paint with six points and many important rebounds. Smith said that group of scorers Urbandale has is as good as any, but his guys still took everything they had.

“Give Urbandale credit, that Drake kid is a quick guard and Costello and the DeKruyf kid hit a couple of 3’s, so they have a lot of weapons like everyone has in this league but we are right there,” Smith said. “All you can ask for is to give yourself a chance and it was just two points going into the fourth quarter, but for whatever reason we just didn’t finish well today.”

No individual outshone Bobcats senior Luke Appel, however, as he finished the night with 25 points off of 10-made shots. Smith said Appel has really stepped up his game during his senior year, and he brings a consistent effort every night.

T-R PHOTO BY THORN COMPTON

T-R PHOTO BY THORN COMPTON

“He is just playing so well this year, he is such a tough matchup and he shot the ball really well from the outside over the break,” Smith said of his leading scorer. “He is moving well without the ball, offensively he is just locked in for sure. He is playing at a high level, no doubt about that.”

Appel was the only Bobcat who looked in mid-season form, however, as no other MHS player had more than five points. Smith said he expected the guys to not be at their best right after the break, especially considering sixth-man Sam Irwin is sidelined due to a bout with Mononucleosis, but he isn’t using that as an excuse.

“Obviously Sam Irwin is out for a month with mono and we certainly missed him tonight and his defensive intensity,” Smith said. “It just seems like, not that the kids weren’t playing hard, but they were a step slow and a little sluggish. You could sense that, but obviously this was Urbandale’s first game back too so we can’t use that as an excuse. We just didn’t feel like we were firing on all pistons tonight, but that being said we still hung in there and battled, it just wasn’t enough.”

With Irwin out, other players got to see a little more action on Tuesday, and seniors Reid Nennig and Makeer Kuony each took advantage of that opportunity. Each of them made a couple of crucial plays to keep Marshalltown in the game, and Smith said they both impressed in their limited minutes.

“Those guys have really given us a lot of energy. They haven’t got as much playing time but obviously with Sam being out everyone moves up one in the rotation and getting their opportunity,” Smith said. “(Kuony) is figuring things out and getting a feel chemistry-wise where everyone is at. I really thought he played his role well tonight, as did Reid. You saw him take a charge and get an offensive rebound, and Makeer is a rebounder around the basket and is good energy off the bench.”

T-R PHOTO BY THORN COMPTON

T-R PHOTO BY THORN COMPTON

As for how the Bobcats right the ship, Smith said he isn’t worried about the cold night from behind the arc on Tuesday, and what will help get back into the win column is some good, old-fashioned elbow grease.

“There’s no magic formula, we just have to continue to work and have confidence,” he said. “Kids really shot it well actually in our holiday scrimmage last Saturday, so I know they will pick it up. We have too many good shooters not to, a lot of kids will stay after practice and work on their shooting, it’s just a matter of mentally staying in there and not losing their confidence and not letting that affect them on the defensive end.”

Marshalltown returns to the court on Friday when it meets up with Class 4A No. 4 Johnston for a road matchup against the Dragons, starting at 7:45 p.m.

Urbandale 58, Marshalltown 43

At Urbandale

MARSHALLTOWN (4-5, 1-2) — Austin Shomo 1 0-0 2, Josh Melde 1 0-0 2, Bennett O’Hare 1 2-4 5, Jacob Smith 2 0-0 5, Luke Appel 10 5-7 25, Conner Beaty 0 0-0 0, Reid Nennig 0 0-0 0, Makeer Kuony 1 2-4 4, Sunday Arou 0 0-0 0. TOTALS 16 9-15 43.

URBANDALE (4-4, 1-2) — Henry Drake 5 4-6 14, Lucas Strain 1 0-0 2, Alex Economos 1 0-1 2, Anthony Costello 2 2-2 6, Ben DeKruyf 6 0-1 15, Luke Sams 0 0-0 0, Casey Steen 3 0-0 7, Will Pattison 2 4-4 9, Jake Havran 0 0-0 0, Justin Boord 1 0-0 3, Alex Augustine 0 0-0 0. TOTALS 21 10-14 58.

MHS 14 13 8 8 — 43

URBANDALE 13 16 8 21 — 58

3-Point Goals–MHS 2 (O’Hare, Smith), Urbandale 6 (DeKruyf 3, Steen, Pattison, Boord). Total Fouls–MHS 16, Urbandale 19. Fouled Out–none. Technical Fouls–Melde, Appel.