Hawks escape Trojans’ grasp, 66-64

T-R PHOTO BY THORN COMPTON - West Marshall senior Alex Halter (42) drives past South Hamilton defender Logan Peters (14) for a layup in the first half of the Trojans’ 66-64 loss to the Hawks in State Center on Saturday.

STATE CENTER — For the first eight minutes of the West Marshall boys basketball teams’ home opener on Saturday night, it seemed as though South Hamilton was going to run the Trojans off the court.

The Hawks started the game on an 8-0 run and led 21-13 after the first quarter, but from them on West Marshall turned on the heat.

The Trojans would win each of the next three quarters but in the end it just wasn’t enough as South Hamilton escaped State Center with a two-point victory, 66-64.

Despite the loss, West Marshall head coach Paul deNeui said after his guys started the season with a 10-point loss to NICL West Division foe AGWSR on Friday, he was happy with how they bounced back against a tough team like the Hawks.

“When you play two nights in a row and it was kind of a rough loss for us the other night, I was very pleased with how we came back and fought back,” deNeui said. “Especially with how we started, we were down 8-0 or something like that and we got it back to a five-point ball game at halftime. I am very pleased with how we played defense and fought ourselves back in that game.”

deNeui wasn’t the only one who thought the Trojans fought well in the loss.

“I was really impressed with West Marshall, they could have folded early but they didn’t,” South Hamilton head coach Nathan Hill said. “They had a lot of energy and a lot of fight, so I give props to them. They are going to have a good year if they play that hard every night.”

Alex Halter got the momentum rolling in the first quarter for West Marshall by splashing a 3-pointer, one of his four hits from behind the arc on the night. After starting the year shooting just 4-for-27 from three against AGWSR, the Trojans as a team were 12-for-25 against the Hawks with Halter and Joe Halverson each hitting four 3-pointers and sophomore Isaiah Borgos making three.

“We shot horrible last night but we still like to shoot it,” deNeui said of his team, which led the state in regular season 3-pointers made last year. “I would like us to go to the hoop more often, I think we have kids that can get to the hoop and finish it and I think we have some pretty good free-throw shooters. I would like to see us do more of that, then go to the three, but we will live with what we’ve got right now.”

Halter, Borgos and Cameron Bannister all finished the night with 14 points for the Trojans (0-2) while Halverson followed just behind with 12. Bannister was the lone player in double figures in the previous loss, so deNeui said it was good to get some of the other players involved offensively.

“We had a long talk with Cam this summer about how he needs to start shooting the ball and he has responded, we are very pleased with that,” deNeui said. “I was also pleased with Joe and Isaiah. Alex is a kid who can put the ball in the hoop at times and when he is on fire we let him go. He is slowly progressing too, it’s all about where we finish in the end.”

While the shots were falling it was actually the defense that deNeui said got his team back into the game.

After scoring 21 points in the first quarter, South Hamilton (3-0) had just 16 in the second and 11 in the third, which left the door open for the Trojans to make a comeback.

“It was everybody knowing their assignments, we can’t leave Conner Hill and Logan Peters open and those two really went off in the first half,” deNeui said. “We had to close out on them and do a better job and we did better, which made a big difference for us. We still had opportunities to take charges and we are still not getting that rotation quite yet. We had two or three in the first half and I know we can get more out of that, especially against a team that penetrates like South Hamilton.”

Hill and Peters each had 20 points for the Hawks, but 15 of Peters’ 20 came in the first half.

In the fourth quarter South Hamilton was able to take advantage of some foul issues to get to the line 13 times, as they were in the bonus essentially the entire eight minutes. Of the Hawks’ 18 points in the fourth, 11 came from the charity stripe, and deNeui said that was due to his guys running out of gas.

“I think they are a little better conditioned than we are, we were a little slower at the end getting to cutoffs, not like we were in the first half really getting to those cutoffs,” he said. “We just have to get in better shape and get better at our defense, it’s improving but we’ve got to still make progress.”

Though West Marshall hasn’t earned a win yet, there was some definite growth shown against a team that was a state qualifier a year ago. deNeui said there are things his guys can build off of now heading into their second week of the season.

“We still need to work on screening a little better, but our shot selection was better tonight than it was last night and the kids took good shots when they were open,” he said. “As a coach you don’t want to take bad shots, so they are doing a good job with taking good shots and I am very pleased with that.

“I am pleased with the progress of our defense, it’s getting better. Compared to the first game we played in the [Iowa Hall of Pride Challenge] where we scrimmaged Montezuma and they ripped us apart, we have made leaps and bounds.”

The Trojans return to the court on Tuesday with a road NICL West matchup against South Hardin in Eldora, starting at 7:45 p.m.

South Hamilton 66, West Marshall 64

At State Center

SOUTH HAMILTON (3-0) — Sam Lewis 3-5 2-2 8, Logan Peters 7-12 3-6 20, Quinton Grove 1-3 2-2 4, Conner Hill 9-25 1-3 20, Cade Balvanz 4-5 0-2 8, Aaron Hegland 0-0 4-4 4, Carter Hewitt 1-1 0-1 2, Doran Lutjen 0-0 0-0 0, Ezequiel Balderas 0-1 0-0 0. TOTALS 25-52 14-20 66.

WEST MARSHALL (0-2) — Cameron Bannister 4-8 5-6 14, Joe Halverson 4-10 0-0 12, Gabe Jones 2-5 0-0 4, Isaiah Borgos 4-9 3-4 14, Alex Halter 5-12 0-0 14, Seth Diser 1-1 0-0 2, Jake Tollefson 0-1 0-0 0, Josh Larsen 2-3 0-0 4, Brayden Evertsen 0-0 0-0 0. TOTALS 22-49 8-10 64.

S. HAMILTON 21 16 11 18 — 66

W. MARSHALL 13 19 13 19 — 64

3-Point Goals–SH 4-14 (Peters 3-6, Hill 1-7, Balderas 0-1), WM 12-25 (Halter 4-8, Halverson 4-8, Borgos 3-6, Bannister 1-2, Jones 0-1). Rebounds–SH 30 (Hill 9), WM 22 (four with 4). Assists–SH 13 (Hill, Grove 4), WM 10 (Bannister, Halter 3). Total Fouls–SH 13, WM 19. Fouled Out–Jones.