Mustangs make it a sweep

T-R PHOTO BY ROSS THEDE • East Marshall senior Zane Johnson (21) goes up for a basket in front of South Hardin’s Gavin Ridout during the first half of their NICL West Division showdown Thursday in Eldora. Johnson scored a career-high 31 points as the Class 2A No. 10 Mustangs won 75-58.

ELDORA — A season-low scoring output a week earlier sparked the Class 2A No. 10 East Marshall boys’ basketball team back into the up-tempo squad head coach Adam Bauder has been looking for.

When the Mustangs finally started pushing the pace in the second quarter of Thursday’s rematch with South Hardin, the Tigers simply couldn’t keep up.

Meeting South Hardin for the second time in three nights, East Marshall made its move in the second period with plenty of transition scoring chances that caught the Tigers off-guard in an eventual 75-58 victory in NICL West Division play.

Mustang senior Zane Johnson was the biggest beneficiary, racking up a career-high 31 points to lead the team in its quest for an NICL West championship.

East Marshall (15-0, 9-0) beat South Hardin in Le Grand on Tuesday night, 69-51, and then duplicated the feat in Thursday’s return trip to Eldora. The similar margins reflected a pair of comparable contests in which the Tigers (7-9, 4-6) fought through to the end.

T-R PHOTO BY ROSS THEDE • South Hardin guard Jacob Vander Wilt (2) gets the basket and is fouled by East Marshall’s Zaine Leedom during the second half of Thursday’s NICL West Division boys’ basketball game in Eldora. Vander Wilt made the free throw to complete the three-point play, but the Tigers fell 75-58.

“I guess when you play against the same team twice in three days it’s going to be a little bit more intense because you see the same people in that short span of time,” said East Marshall coach Adam Bauder. “They’re a well-coached team and they have energy and fire and it’s great to see that. It leads to some good matchups and it’ll be fun in the future too.”

Neither team surprised the other with changes in strategies, so in this rematch it was simply about execution. South Hardin scratched together a small surge late in the second quarter after trailing 21-9 at the first intermission, but the Tigers never got within 13 after that.

Zaine Leedom intercepted Kaleb Roling’s pass at the top of the key to open the third quarter and his three-point play on the other end got the Mustangs going again.

“We tried to make adjustments but we couldn’t find the execution,” said South Hardin coach Nathan Gevelinger. “I love our effort, we played hard, we got some good contributions from the bench, but we’ve got to execute.”

The Tigers tried a handful of defensive strategies, though none were more successful than the other. A brief switch to a 1-3-1 zone during the first quarter immediately yielded a wide-open 3-pointer for Mustang point guard Tyler DeBondt, and Eli Anderson and Johnson added back-to-back treys moments later.

T-R PHOTO BY ROSS THEDE

East Marshall’s advantage stayed at or around 20 points for most of the second half until Tiger senior center Kevin Rewoldt got consecutive dunks against the Mustangs’ reserves to end the game.

Rewoldt finished with 16 points and 18 rebounds in the loss. Cauy Teske made three 3-pointers and ended with 12 points, and Garrison Tripp chipped in 11 points off the bench before fouling out.

South Hardin was saddled with 25 personal fouls in the game, and East Marshall went 19-for-22 at the line as a result. Johnson alone was 11-for-11 at the charity stripe.

“[Foul trouble] has become a recurring theme all season,” Gevelinger said. “We don’t help, we don’t sprint to help, we swat and they’re fouls. We need to play defense as a collective unit and until we do that we’re going to have some tough battles ahead.”

DeBondt and Logan Nicholson both finished with 12 points, while Leedom and Zach Finders added seven points each for the Mustangs, who are two wins away from at least a share of the NICL West crown.

“It seems like we’re in it mentally, we’re just trying to keep their mindset on the stuff at hand, keep them focused, keep them loose,” Bauder said. “When you get late into the season with an undefeated record on the line, some kids will start feeling the pressure, so we’re not talking about that. We’re talking about one game at a time, cliché after cliché.”

East Marshall goes back out onto the road tonight, visiting BCLUW for another divisional tilt. South Hardin hosts 2A No. 5 South Hamilton on Saturday.

East Marshall 75,

South Hardin 58

At Eldora

EAST MARSHALL (15-0, 9-0) — Zaine Leedom 3 1-1 7, Zane Johnson 9 11-11 31, Eli Anderson 1 0-0 3, Tyler DeBondt 4 3-4 12, Logan Nicholson 5 2-2 12, Evan Espenscheid 1 1-2 3, Zach Finders 2 1-2 7, Jimmy Sylvester 0 0-0 0, Cade Curphy 0 0-0 0, Cam Hungerford 0 0-0 0, Brayden Fahrni 0 0-0 0. TOTALS 25 19-22 75.

SOUTH HARDIN (7-9, 4-6) — Jacob Vander Wilt 2 3-5 8, Cauy Teske 3 3-4 12, Kaleb Roling 1 0-0 2, Cade Spieker 3 1-2 7, Kevin Rewoldt 7 2-6 16, Kolby Winter 0 0-0 0, Tanner Lawrence 0 0-0 0, Tyrell Todd 1 0-0 2, Garrison Tripp 4 2-2 11, Gavin Ridout 0 0-0 0. TOTALS 21 11-19 58.

E. MARSHALL 21 20 19 15 — 75

S. HARDIN 9 18 11 16 — 54

3-Point Goals–EM 6 (Finders 2, Johnson 2, DeBondt, Anderson), SH 5 (Teske 3, Vander Wilt, Tripp). Total Fouls–EM 17, SH 25. Fouled Out–Roling, Tripp.