’Cats keep rolling with third-straight
MHS boys win home opener over SE Polk
After a 2-1 start to the season, the Marshalltown boys basketball team finally got to play in front of the home crowd on Friday night with a CIML Iowa Conference matchup against Southeast Polk in the Roundhouse.
Junior Austin Shomo started everything off with a 3-pointer on the left wing and the Bobcats never looked back, cruising to a 51-42 victory over the Rams for a home-opening win.
Marshalltown head coach Michael Appel, who got his first home win at the helm for MHS, said his boys managed the expectations for the home opener well.
“It was a great atmosphere being at home, I think the kids were pretty excited just being here for the first time and I think for the most part they handled it well,” Appel said. “When you’ve got that first home game your adrenaline is going like crazy and guys are kind of running all over and can lose their head a little bit, but for the most part I don’t think our guys really did that. I think they stayed locked in and I emphasized using that adrenaline and energy on the defensive end.”
Defense was a key all night for the Bobcats (3-1, 1-0), particularly in the first and fourth quarters. Southeast Polk (0-4, 0-1) only managed seven points in the opening frame, and after whittling the Marshalltown lead from 10 in the third quarter to just two at the start of the fourth, the Rams could only get five points in the final frame.
“We had stretches where we were great on defense, yet there were still stretches where we were left scratching our heads wondering what we were doing,” Appel said. “It was a little bit of both where you are having some great stuff happen and having some bad moments, but it was good for the most part.”
On the offensive side the Bobcats had different people step up when they needed it most. The first half was the Armonniey Thomas show, as the MHS freshman made a big splash in his first home game of his career with 15 points in the first half on five makes from behind the 3-point line.
Thomas finished the night with 18 points due to Southeast Polk making it a priority to guard him on the outside in the second half, but Appel said Thomas was great when given the opportunity.
“He didn’t get as many looks obviously in the second half but he was making some good shots that first half,” Appel said of his freshman that’s led in scoring in the last two games. “He was taking good shots, that’s something we’ve talked about with him, and he was knocking them down. He didn’t have a whole lot of opportunities that second half, we have to look for him to be more aggressive at times especially with that pressure defense. There’s some stuff we need to work on in practice but he is young so he’ll learn. That’s a pretty good performance from a freshman for his first time at home.”
When the Rams put the clamps on Thomas and the Bobcat offense in general in the third quarter, it was senior Jacob Smith’s turn to step up and lead the way.
Smith was second on the team with 14 points, 10 of which came in the second half and eight of which were in the third quarter.
“Right at the time we were kind of struggling to score we look to him and he did a great job of responding to that,” Appel said of Smith. “He kind of took it into his own hands and was aggressive, we ran a few things for him to get him going a little bit and I thought he did a great job with that.”
Smith couldn’t take all the credit for his hot shooting in the second half though.
“I was just looking for good shots, we were moving the ball and seeing what the defense gave us,” Smith said. “My teammates did a good job of setting me up and I hit a couple of threes there, so that was good for us.”
While they were able to get the job done in the second half and come away victorious, Appel said he wasn’t satisfied with his team’s offensive possessions.
“We got a little tentative at times, I think their defense was kind of pressuring us at times and we could never really get into what we wanted to do,” he said. “We need to do a better job of that, we have to get into our stuff and can’t let them dictate what we are doing. Just keep running our system and we are going to get good shots, we can’t get into this mindset of, ‘if they are pressuring us I am going to drive at them and create the foul.’ It’s not going go to work, we’ve got to stay the course and be patient on offense.”
There was some foul trouble Marshalltown was dealing with as well, particularly when center Sunday Arou picked up his fourth foul in the third quarter. That opened the door for junior Will Van Buren to come put his stamp on the game, however, and Appel said Van Buren is a huge reason why his team came away with the victory.
“It felt like when we needed those big boards at the end he was the one going up and grabbing them, that was great from him and I was glad to see that from him,” Appel said. “He brought that edge to us that we needed a little bit, some defensive intensity and making sure we were securing those rebounds. I was really pleased with how Will played, especially in the second half.”
Van Buren finished with five points to come in fourth for Marshalltown, while Arou had six to finish third.
Daniel Hackbarth led the Rams with 15, followed by Sam Glenn with 10. Those two were the only Southeast Polk players to score in the fourth quarter, and they accounted for 14 of the Rams’ 23 second-half points.
Marshalltown now has the first three-game winning streak in Appel’s tenure, and while he is happy the games are falling his way he said there are plenty of areas his boys need to improve.
“We’ve got a three game winning streak but this is the second time I have said to the guys that it wasn’t very pretty. It was pretty ugly, I don’t think we played to our capability, it was below average to be honest,” Appel said. “But at the end of the day we got the win, we are learning to win and still aren’t playing at our best, so that’s kind of a good sign. We need to figure out a few things and clean some things up because teams are only getting better and we have to match that and continue to get better.”
The Bobcats will look to make it four straight on Tuesday when they host Dowling Catholic in the Roundhouse, starting at 7:45 p.m.
Marshalltown 51, Southeast Polk 42
SE POLK (0-4, 0-1) — James Glenn 1 1-2 3, Daniel Hackbarth 4 6-10 15, Sam Glenn 3 2-3 10, Dominic Caggiano 0 0-0 0, Josiah Cole 0 2-2 2, Eli Christiansen 3 0-0 6, Kaleb Krier 2 0-0 6, Fred Johnson 0 0-0 0, Broch Stiles 0 0-0 0, Jaxon Dailey 0 0-0 0. TOTALS 13 11-17 42.
MARSHALLTOWN (3-1, 1-0) — Armonniey Thomas 6 1-2 18, Austin Shomo 1 1-2 4, Bennett O’Hare 0 4-9 4, Jacob Smith 4 4-4 14, Sunday Arou 2 2-3 6, Eric Kapayou 0 0-0 0, Jaiden Van Law 0 0-0 0, Will Van Buren 2 1-3 5. TOTALS 15 13-23 51.
SE POLK 7 12 18 5 — 42
MHS 14 10 15 12 — 51
3-Point Goals–SEP 5 (S. Glenn 2, Krier 2, Hackbarth), MHS 8 (Thomas 5, Smith 2, Shomo). Total Fouls–SEP 21, MHS 14. Fouled Out–Caggiano.