Royals chase off Redhawks
COLO — Just from the action on the court between the Colo-NESCO and North Tama boys basketball teams on Friday night, it would be hard to tell which team only had one loss in Iowa Star Conference South Division play and which team was looking for its third divisional win.
The underdog Redhawks started the game off strong, taking a 10-9 lead after the first quarter, but in the end the Royals were just too much to handle, as they climbed back into the lead and held off North Tama for a 67-55 victory.
Colo-NESCO head coach Patrick Wynja said this game between his squad and the Redhawks was much different than their last meeting, a 62-43 win for the Royals in Traer on only the second night of the season.
“North Tama played us defensively different than we’ve been played all year,” Wynja said. “Offensively we did fine, we hit some threes, it was just one of those nights. If we would have made some free throws things would have been a little better. Let’s just blame that on the snow day yesterday I guess.”
Matthew Hill was the leading scorer for Colo-NESCO (8-4, 6-1) with 21 points, the most for any player in the game, but that large point total doesn’t tell the story for how well North Tama (4-9, 2-5) held down the Royals’ leading scorer. Hill only made five shots from the field, and most of his 21 came from the free-throw line, where he went 7-of-8 during the fourth quarter to help seal the win for Colo-NESCO.
“He only had five field goals tonight, so they did a great job on him,” Wynja said of how the Redhawks handled Hill. “It’s a different situation for Matthew so hopefully he learned a thing or two tonight. When teams are collapsing on you, you have to be able to find the open guy.”
Two other Royals reached the double digits as well, with Philip Bower dropping in 14 points along with some key passes for assists, and Jacob Clatt scored 13, almost all of which came down in the paint.
Wynja said Bower might have had the best game for anyone in a Colo-NESCO uniform, including a pass to Hill at the end of the game for a bucket that essentially ended the Redhawk rally.
“Phil played a sneaky great game. He was hitting threes, he was hitting open guys, the way the game ended with that alley-oop pass, that was a great look,” Wynja said. “Phil had a great game, and what was really good about it was there wasn’t a lot of space inside but he was still weaving and finding guys. Thank goodness he came to play offensively, for sure.”
Wynja saved his highest praise for a player from the other side, however, as he said North Tama junior Noah Bond outplayed everyone on his team throughout the game.
“I really thought the Bond kid was the difference tonight, he was the most physical kid on the floor and the toughest kid,” Wynja said. “I thought that really was the biggest difference in the night, so all credit to that kid.”
Bond was one of three Redhawk players in double figures with 16 points. Hale Hulme led the team with 19 points, including four 3-pointers, while Cael Even chipped in 11.
North Tama assistant coach Mark Earley, who was filling in for head coach Alex Tagtow while he was at home with his newborn child, said when Bond, Hulme and Even are going strong, the Redhawks are tough to beat.
“Those guys, when they get it going you can’t stop them. Bond on the glass, he’s just crazy on that, when he wants to go he goes,” Earley said. “It was great to watch, it was a great game and I am proud of our guys. I hope we can keep that energy going throughout the rest of the season.”
This was an important win for the Royals as they now keep pace with Baxter for the lead in the Iowa Star South. Wynja said the schedule lately has been pretty tough, and it doesn’t get any easier with Class 1A No. 2 Grand View Christian looming on Tuesday, but these tough games will do nothing but make his guys ready for postseason play.
“We’ve kind of gone through the ringer with our schedule lately and we play No. 2 Grand View on Tuesday,” Wynja said. “The kids have to understand it’s going to be a battle every night from now on, which you couldn’t ask for more when you want to compete in the postseason. You’ve got to be tested and you have to learn from nights like tonight, all it can do is good things for you. I look forward to Tuesday and hopefully we can give Grand View a good shot.”
Colo-NESCO 67, North Tama 55
NORTH TAMA (4-9, 2-5) — Hale Hulme 5 5-9 19, Noah Bond 7 2-6 16, Lance Zobel 0 0-0 0, Nic Sierra 4 1-2 9, Cael Even 4 0-2 11, Jack Dostal 0 0-0 0, Zach Greiner 0 0-0 0, Cory Kennedy 0 0-0 0. TOTALS 20 8-19 55.
COLO-NESCO (8-4, 6-1) — Kelly Gray 1 1-2 3, Philip Bower 6 0-2 14, Sean Cutler 3 0-1 9, Matthew Hill 5 11-12 21, Jacob Clatt 6 1-1 13, Mason Lytle 0 1-2 1, Bryce Niemeyer 3 0-1 6. TOTALS 24 14-21 67.
N. Tama 10 12 17 16 — 55
COLO-NESCO 9 16 21 21 — 67
3-Point Goals–NT 7 (Hulme 4, Even 3), C-N 5 (Cutler 3, Bower 2). Total Fouls–NT 21, C-N 18. Fouled Out–none.