No. 9 Dragons pull away from ’Cats

Johnston’s fast start in fourth quarter quells Bobcat boys, 54-51

T-R PHOTO BY THORN COMPTON • Marshalltown senior Luke Appel, center, fights for the ball with Johnston’s Nathan Newcomb (45) and Camden Vander Zwaag during the first half of the Bobcats’ 54-51 loss to the No. 9 Dragons at home on Friday.

T-R PHOTO BY THORN COMPTON • Marshalltown senior Luke Appel, center, fights for the ball with Johnston’s Nathan Newcomb (45) and Camden Vander Zwaag during the first half of the Bobcats’ 54-51 loss to the No. 9 Dragons at home on Friday.

At the end of the third quarter on Friday night, the Marshalltown boys basketball team was knotted up at 33-all against Class 4A No. 9 Johnston in their CIML Iowa Conference clash.

Both the Bobcats and Dragons had battled all night, neither gaining too much ground on the other, and the MHS faithful at the Roundhouse could taste the upset victory brewing for their squad.

The upset didn’t quite come to fruition, however, as Johnston started the fourth quarter on a 7-0 run that proved to be too much for Marshalltown to overcome, as the Bobcats fell to the Dragons 54-51.

MHS head coach Scott Smith said this was a tough one to let slip through their fingers, especially considering the guys executed assistant coach Michael Appel’s game plan brilliantly.

“We are obviously disappointed with the loss, but it was a tremendous effort from everybody,” Smith said after the loss. “Everybody has bought in, I have to give props to the assistant coaches, coach Appel in particular, it was a phenomenal game plan, he had the scout on this and the kids all bought in and we don’t want to be a program that is happy with a 3-point loss because they proved that they can play with everyone in the state, including our substate.”

T-R PHOTO BY THORN COMPTON • Marshalltown junior Jacob Smith, center, takes to the sky to lay the ball in over Johnston’s Bo Sandquist (13) during the second half of the Bobcats’ loss to the Dragons at home on Friday.

T-R PHOTO BY THORN COMPTON • Marshalltown junior Jacob Smith, center, takes to the sky to lay the ball in over Johnston’s Bo Sandquist (13) during the second half of the Bobcats’ loss to the Dragons at home on Friday.

It was actually the Bobcats’ defensive system that led to the 7-0 spurt for Johnston to start the fourth, as the Dragons (14-3, 8-1) keyed off of the choices Marshalltown (5-12, 2-7) was making in double teaming and found open shooters on the edge.

Smith said he gives credit to the Johnston coaches for exploiting what his team was trying to do, and in the end the Dragons just gave forth a great effort to win.

“By design we put in a special defense and the kids did a great job of executing it. They had a couple of guys that we purposely left open and we were going to make other guys beat us, and give them credit because they did,” Smith said. “I thought our guys maybe gave up a couple offensive rebounds, the effort was there but they just got a couple of putbacks and then offensively I thought for the most part we did a good job but during that stretch they hit some shots and got a couple of offensive boards and we missed some, and at times it’s as simple as that.”

Senior Luke Appel continued his fantastic season on the offensive end with a game-high 26 points, including 11 in the fourth quarter, while Josh Melde splashed in a few threes to finish with 11.

Camden Vander Zwaag led the Dragons with 20 points, followed by Peyton Williams with 18.

T-R PHOTO BY THORN COMPTON

T-R PHOTO BY THORN COMPTON

Considering the last time these two teams faced off Johnston came away with a 23-point victory, Smith said his guys showed they have the stuff to compete with ranked teams around the state.

“That team has beat almost every team in the state, all of the big names, and we took them toe-to-toe, so that will give us confidence moving forward. If we can just keep getting better, we will keep putting ourselves in these positions and that is all you can ask for right there.

Two weeks prior, the Bobcats lost a heart-breaker of a game to Urbandale at home on a last-second 3-pointer. After that game, Smith said that was a turning point for his squad, and since then Marshalltown beat Mason City and narrowly lost to the No. 9 team in 4A.

Smith said this is a continuation of the momentum he was talking about two weeks ago, and they still need to continue building heading to the final week of the season.

“To me this is a great springboard of the momentum we built starting in the Urbandale game, then in Mason City and we just have to keep this going,” Smith said. “We will move forward tonight, even in the midst of a loss, but we can’t be satisfied losing to a tremendous team, we have to use that as motivation as we move forward in our schedule.”

As Smith said, the schedule for the final week isn’t exactly a cake walk. First they take on Aplington-Parkersburg, the No. 8 team in 2A, on Monday, then the Bobcats travel to Des Moines Lincoln on Tuesday before finishing the regular season at home on Friday against 5A No. 8 Dowling Catholic.

The Bobcats and Falcons will tip off in the Roundhouse on Monday, starting at 7:45 p.m.

Johnston 54, Marshalltown 51

At Marshalltown

JOHNSTON (14-3, 8-1) — Boston Grimes 2 0-0 5, Bo Sandquist 0 4-4 4, Camden Vander Zwaag 9 0-0 20, Peyton Williams 8 2-3 18, Nathan Newcomb 1 0-0 2, Reid Grant 2 0-1 5, Joe Paul 0 0-0 0, Chandler Heiser 0 0-0 0. TOTALS 22 6-9 54.

MARSHALLTOWN (5-12, 2-7) — Austin Shomo 2 1-2 7, Josh Melde 4 0-0 11, Bennett O’Hare 1 0-0 3, Jacob Smith 2 0-0 4, Luke Appel 12 2-3 26, Conner Beaty 0 0-0 0, Sam Irwin 0 0-0 0, Makeer Kuony 0 0-0 0. TOTALS 21 3-5 51.

JOHNSTON 13 9 11 21 — 54

MHS 14 7 12 18 — 51

3-Point Goals–JHN 4 (Vander Zwaag 2, Grant, Grimes), MHS 6 (Melde 3, Shomo 2, O’Hare). Total Fouls–JHN 11, MHS 13. Fouled Out–none.