Big first half lifts Tigers over Panthers

MCC uses 43-point first half to outpace Ellsworth

T-R PHOTO BY THORN COMPTON Marshalltown Community College freshman Nick Fleming, right, goes for a layup while Ellsworth Community College defender Byron Brown, left, contests during the first half of the Tigers’ 66-51 win over the Panthers in Marshalltown on Wednesday.

Through the first 11 minutes the Marshalltown Community College men’s basketball team couldn’t gain much ground on Ellsworth Community College.

After beating the Panthers by 17 the last time out, the Tigers seemed to take the game too lightly to open up the first half, leading to MCC owning just a one-point lead with nine minutes before halftime.

Something clicked in those final nine minutes before half, however, as the Tigers went on a 30-7 run to close out the half with a 43-19 lead, which proved to be enough for MCC to finish off Ellsworth with a 66-51 victory.

Marshalltown head coach Brynjar Brynjarsson said while his guys did enough in that span to come away with the win, he wasn’t thrilled with the effort from his team.

“I thought for a stretch for about nine minutes in the first half we actually resembled what we want to do, but outside of that I didn’t think we were very good tonight,” he said. “I just don’t understand the inconsistency that we have, it is really discouraging how up and down we are.”

T-R PHOTO BY THORN COMPTON Marshalltown Community College sophomore JJ Foster (2) rises to contest a pass for Ellsworth Community College center Keaton Taylor, behind, during the first half of the Tigers’ 66-51 win over the Panthers on Wednesday in Marshalltown.

The Tigers (8-6) came out sluggish in the second half, allowing the Panthers (3-10) to whittle the lead down to just 16 with 14 minutes remaining.

MCC responded with a run of their own, however, getting the lead back out to 24 by the 10-minute mark thanks in part to a string of baskets by freshman guard Nick Fleming.

With just over three minutes remaining the Tigers still owned a 22-point lead over Ellsworth at 64-42, but Ellsworth closed out the remaining time on a 9-2 run to bring the game within 15 points.

“We shot 33 percent in the second half, we had 14 turnovers and 10 were in the second half, we were 8-for-15 from the free-throw line, which hasn’t been an issue. We just don’t put five good minutes at a time together for a 20 minute half and then do it again in the second half,” Brynjarsson said. “We are very up and down and that’s why we are who we are, that’s why we are 8-6 instead and not 10-4 or 12-2. That’s how we’ve gotten beat and that’s on me, we’ve got to get this group to play better in the long haul.”

In that nine-minute stretch where the Tigers were able to run and hide, it was an all-around effort that let MCC outpace Ellsworth. The defensive pressure either forced the Panthers to take a wild shot at the buzzer or turn it over, the Tigers were able to get out in front of the play and lead to either an easy layup in transition or set up a 3-pointer due to the collapsing Ellsworth defense.

T-R PHOTO BY THORN COMPTON Marshalltown Community College sophomore Kelton Edwards (23) attempts a reverse layup after getting by Ellsworth Community College defenders Keaton Taylor, behind, and DJ Cobb (12) during the first half of the Tigers’ 66-51 win over the Panthers on Wednesday.

“We got into passing lanes finally and made it hard for them to move the ball,” Brynjarsson said. “The ball got stagnant in one place and the shot clock went down and once it went down the shot they took we were able to get up and rebound, get out in transition and score some buckets in transition. That was encouraging.”

Outside of those nine minutes, however, the MCC looked lost at times on both the defensive and offensive end, which allowed the Panthers to win the second half by nine points.

“If you’re having success, why change?” Brynjarsson asked. “I like our guys but the way we have gone about it has been so up and down and it’s hard to watch.”

Nick Fleming was the leading Tiger scorer with 15 points, 10 of which came in the second half. If not for Fleming’s buckets MCC would have only scored 13 in the second, though that still would have been enough to come away victorious.

Eduardo Lane followed with 14 points, while Juan Coffi had 11, JJ Foster and Goran Vidovic had eight and Kelton Edwards finished with seven.

T-R PHOTO BY THORN COMPTON

Foster and Vidovic both led MCC with three assists, and Foster also had a team-high six rebounds after being given a starting role.

Jamal Antoine had 17 points to pace the Panthers, followed by Tyrese Williams with 11 and Keaton Taylor with 10. Taylor, Williams and South Hardin graduate Kevin Rewoldt all had six rebounds to lead Ellsworth as well.

Despite some struggles, the Tigers have now won four of their last five games as they coupled Wednesday’s win over Ellsworth with a 96-74 victory over Quakerdale Prep Academy on Tuesday night.

Brynjarsson said what his guys are doing on the court goes beyond wins and losses, however.

“The tapes don’t lie, we are here to try to compete for Marshalltown Community College and at the same time we’ve got young players who are wanting to move on to bigger and better things,” he said. “The reality is right now those bigger and better things aren’t going to be what you had in your mind because bigger and better things need to be better than that and more consistent.”

MCC returns to the hardwood next Wednesday with a road matchup at Iowa Lakes, starting at 7:30 p.m. in Estherville.