Huskies hold on

Marshalltown boys fall to No. 1 Des Moines Hoover in substate semis

T-R PHOTO BY THORN COMPTON • Marshalltown senior Luke Appel, center, puts up a shot over Des Moines Hoover’s Nick Johnson (33) and Manny Austin (10) during the fourth quarter of the Bobcats’ narrow loss to the No. 1 Huskies on Friday in the substate semifinals.

DES MOINES — Of all the Class 4A substate semifinals on Friday night, the one many people already pencilled in was the No. 1 Des Moines Hoover boys basketball team beating Marshalltown and advancing to the substate finals.

The Huskies had wins over all of the top teams heading into the matchup, and they boasted a record that featured 10 more wins than the Bobcats. Projections had Hoover as much as an 18-point favorite, but as they say, games aren’t played on paper.

Marshalltown gave the Huskies everything they could handle and then some, and though Hoover did walk away as the 48-44 winner in the 4A Substate 7 semifinals, it was the effort from the Bobcats that people will talk about for some time to come.

Marshalltown head coach Scott Smith said his guys can walk away with their heads held high and know that they pushed the top team in the state to their limits in their final game.

“It just really shows you the heart and character of the group we had and it really starts with the seniors,” Smith said. “Of course there were a lot of tears shed in the locker room after the game, understandably so, because when you invest as much as these guys have it really hurts but the sun will come up tomorrow and when they gain perspective they will realize what a special year they had.”

T-R PHOTO BY THORN COMPTON • Marshalltown junior Jacob Smith, left, sends up a floater over Des Moines Hoover’s Hosea Treadwell during the Bobcats’ 48-44 loss to the Huskies in the substate semifinals on Friday night.

It was clear in the first quarter the Bobcats (8-14) were feeling the pressure a bit, causing a few too many unforced errors on the offensive end, but they played a strong half-court defense in the first frame and went into the second down 14-8.

That strong defensive effort persisted through the second quarter, as Marshalltown only allowed Hoover (19-2) five points in the second while scoring 11 of their own to even things up at 19-all at the half.

The third quarter is where it got away from Marshalltown a bit, as Adam Jackson got loose for 11 points in the frame for the Huskies, most of which came from turnovers, and the Bobcats went into the final quarter down by 12, 35-23.

As they’ve shown all year though, the Bobcats weren’t done yet, as they roared back in the fourth quarter led by a 13-point effort from senior Luke Appel to bring things down to just a two-possession game in the final remaining minutes.

Hoover was able to just hang on, sinking some clutch shots at the free-throw line to stay ahead as time ran down, and Smith said what eventually came back to bite his squad were turnovers in the first and third quarters.

“Give them credit, [Hoover head coach Courtney Henderson] does a great job, they are very sound defensively, very active and athletic and ultimately you can analyze a lot of different aspects of the game but really it came down to our inability to handle the ball,” Smith said. “Our kids played with heart and played well but we just gave them extra possessions and they turned that into points. That was probably the difference in the game from an X’s and O’s standpoint.”

Appel finished with a game-high 23 points, a bow on top of one of the greatest individual seasons and careers for any Marshalltown boys basketball players.

With those 23 points, Appel scored 483 on the season, the most since Trent Trowbridge had 484 in 2011 and the fifth-most points ever scored by a Bobcat. Appel also became the third Marshalltown player to finish his career with over 1,000 points, reaching that mark in the team’s win over Urbandale in the first round of the playoffs.

Smith said it’s been an absolute pleasure coaching Appel and watching him grow into the player he became.

“Luke has had such an unbelievable year and he will be the first to tell you he couldn’t have done with without his teammates, but that kid I have seen grow so much in so many ways and he just plays with a heart of a champion, like all our kids do,” Smith said. “He just was not going to let us lose, unfortunately we came out on the short end of the stick, but basically as the year went on and he got the ball in certain spots he was unstoppable. He really is a tough guard and he is going to win a lot of postseason accolades, but ultimately he would trade any of those for a win tonight, because that’s what he wants to do.”

Appel was also a key member of the state-champion Bobcat golf team in the fall, and he said his goal this season was to bring back a winning attitude to the MHS basketball program. Considering the Bobcats had as many wins this year as the last three years combined, that goal seems to be on track.

“I just hope this just springboards all the next generations into winning basketball games again,” Appel said, still fighting back emotions after the season-ending loss. “Marshalltown is tired of losing, we brought a state championship to Marshalltown in golf and that just brought the community together. And then everyone out here tonight supporting us, all the kids watching us, I mean they have to be fired up. They should win a state championship coming up here, they have to be fired up and keep things going.”

The Marshalltown community truly did rally behind this team, with the students outnumbering the Hoover student section by a 2-to-1 margin on Friday night.

MHS senior Josh Melde, who finished the night with five points including a huge 3-pointer with less than one minute left to keep the Bobcat hope alive, said the team knew with that kind of support and with the kind of effort they could bring, they had a shot against anyone in their bracket.

“We knew there was no team in our substate that we couldn’t beat if we played harder than they did,” Melde said. “If we played as hard as possible we would have a chance, and we did, we just quite finish it off.”

This chapter of Marshalltown basketball now comes to a close as one that will be remembered for years to come. This was the most wins for the Bobcats since finishing 9-14 in 2011, the first trip to the substate semifinals since 2012 and nearly the first trip to the substate finals since making it to state in 2008.

What Smith said he was most proud of with this group is the way they have brought back Marshalltown basketball, doing it the right way.

“The three C’s of the Bobcat program are character, classroom and court in that order, and the kids all passed with flying colors,” Smith said. “I am just so proud to be associated with this group of young men. They played so hard, left everything on the court, and they can’t be defined by a four-point loss to a ranked team. We were right there and gave ourselves a chance, and that’s all you can do.”

After the game, of course there were many messages delivered to the players from the coaching staff, and while Smith said he couldn’t divulge everything, the main message is that this season set the foundation for many years of great basketball in Marshalltown to come.

“I don’t want to say everything because some things are between us and them, but I told them they really set the bar higher for the culture that we are trying to create with the Bobcat program and the heart they played with,” he said. “We’ve had a couple of lean years and some great kids, but it really started last spring with the commitment to just making themselves better.”

Des Moines Hoover 48,

Marshalltown 44

At Des Moines

MARSHALLTOWN (8-14) — Austin Shomo 2 0-0 6, Josh Melde 2 0-0 5, Bennett O’Hare 0 0-0 0, Jacob Smith 4 0-0 10, Luke Appel 10 2-4 23, Sam Irwin 0 0-0 0, Makeer Kuony 0 0-0 0. TOTAL 18 2-4 44.

DM HOOVER (19-2) — Kenny Quinn 1 3-5 6, Adam Jackson 9 0-0 19, Hosea Treadwell 2 0-0 6, DeVonte Thedford 0 4-4 4, Nick Johnson 2 2-3 6, Manny Austin 3 0-0 7, Jarreau Jefferson 0 0-0 0. TOTALS 17 9-12 48.

MHS 8 11 4 21 — 44

Hoover 14 5 16 13 — 48

3-Point Goals–MHS 6 (Shomo 2, Smith 2, Appel), Hoover 5 (Treadwell 2, Quinn, Jackson, Austin). Total Fouls–MHS 13, Hoover 12. Fouled Out–none.