No. 7 East Marshall sprints past West Marshall, back into substate finals
A little bit of defense turned into a whole lot of offense for East Marshall, and the Mustangs are moving on because of it.
The seventh-ranked East Marshall boys’ basketball team turned up the heat on one end of the court and got hot on the other, breaking free from cross-county rival West Marshall for a 56-39 triumph in Tuesday’s Class 2A District 13 final at the Roundhouse.
East Marshall (22-0) will meet No. 3 South Hamilton (23-0) in the substate finals for the second consecutive year, squaring off Saturday at 7 p.m. at Nevada High School with the winner advancing to state. The Hawks got last year’s thriller, 53-51, in the same gymnasium.
On Tuesday night, the Mustangs outscored the Trojans (15-8) by a 13-4 margin in the third quarter to turn a three-point halftime lead into a 12-point deficit that West Marshall never managed to get back to single digits.
The Trojans’ prolific 3-point offense sputtered in the spacious surroundings at Marshalltown High School, going 5-for-26 from distance after entering the game with a state-best 224 3-pointers made at an average of 10.2 per contest. And when East Marshall buckled down defensively coming out of halftime, the Trojans ran into trouble.
“I think we just recognized some spots, I think we were able to get more defensive rebounds, more loose balls than we did in the first half and I think the boys just decided we could go, so let’s turn it up a little bit and they did that,” said East Marshall head coach Adam Bauder. “In the third quarter we really extended defensively, we got more up in them and that got them out of what they wanted to do, made it hard for them to run whatever they wanted to run.”
Clinging to a one-point lead midway through the third quarter, East Marshall made its move. Jimmy Sylvester converted a Zane Johnson back-door pass into a reverse layup, Johnson took a pass from Sylvester in for a short shot, and West Marshall called for a quick timeout suddenly down five.
But the Trojans turned the ball over right out of the break, and East Marshall capitalized. Zaine Leedom blocked a 3-point attempt and got out on the break, beating everyone up the court for a layup, and then Sylvester sunk a 3-pointer that made it 29-19 Mustangs.
East Marshall held the ball for the final 1:12 of the third quarter and got a 3-point attempt for Tyler DeBondt, but his errant shot was rebounded and put back on the fly by Leedom to turn what had been a nailbiter into a 12-point advantage.
West Marshall sophomore Peyton Pope made two of his team’s three triples in the fourth quarter, but the Trojans also had to try to keep up with the patient Mustangs in a man-to-man defense and East Marshall got whatever it wanted as a result. Zach Finders’ 3-pointer pushed the lead to 13, and layups and free throws sealed the deal for a Mustangs squad determined to get back to the substate finals for the second year in a row.
“Everybody repeatedly kept saying ‘you guys know how hard it is to beat a team three times?'” said Leedom. “I think that’s part of what fueled us to get this done so much and we did.”
The Mustangs toppled the Trojans twice during NICL West Division play, winning by five and eight points in respective pairings. But this one got away from West Marshall in the third quarter, and the Trojans couldn’t chase it down.
“The biggest thing was their defense,” Trojans head coach Paul de Neui said. “I thought their defense was outstanding tonight and that pretty much told the tale of the tape for us. We struggled to find good, open shots. During the season we were able to get off good shots, but they stepped up their defense tonight.”
West Marshall was limited to a season-low scoring output, led by Pope’s 16 points. Beau Coberley finished with eight points and five rebounds, Cameron Bannister had six points, and Joe Halverson pulled down a team-leading eight rebounds.
Try as they might, the Trojans never did get on track offensively.
“The third quarter was a tough one for us, they got a lot of fast-break points off it because they got stops and they got down the floor and we didn’t transition very well,” de Neui added. “I think it was a little bit of a mental breakdown, but they’re just a good team and they deserved to win.”
Johnson tallied 17 points and nine rebounds for East Marshall while Leedom added a double-double of 14 points and 11 boards. DeBondt contributed nine points and Sylvester finished with seven.
“With this crowd that was here tonight especially, with every little thing we do that’s good — and it doesn’t even have to be that good — they just go crazy and that’s a good feeling,” said Leedom, “that gets us going.”
The loss closed out the careers for four West Marshall seniors — Coberley, Alex Dickey, John Hohnstein and Michael Doe — who helped resurrect a program that had recently seen unknown lows.
“This was an outstanding bunch of boys, they’ve made practices fun and they’ve worked hard,” said de Neui. “Beau and Alex played a little varsity when they were freshmen and we only one three games that year. They’ve come a long ways and helped us build this program back up to where we’re competitive and hopefully we’ll just continue to grow.”
East Marshall 56,
WEST MARSHALL (15-8) — Beau Coberley 2 4-5 8, Cameron Bannister 2 1-1 6, Peyton Pope 6 2-2 16, Joe Halverson 0 3-4 3, Alex Dickey 1 0-0 3, Josh Larsen 0 0-0 0, Michael Doe 1 0-0 3. TOTALS 12 10-12 39.
EAST MARSHALL (22-0) — Zaine Leedom 6 2-5 14, Zane Johnson 8 1-2 17, Eli Anderson 0 4-5 4, Tyler DeBondt 2 5-9 9, Logan Nicholson 0 0-0 0, Evan Espenscheid 1 0-0 2, Zach Finders 1 0-0 3, Jimmy Sylvester 2 2-2 7. TOTALS 14 14-22 56.
W. MARSHALL 9 6 4 20 — 39
E. MARSHALL 9 9 13 25 — 56
3-Point Goals–WM 5 (Pope 2, Bannister, Dickey, Doe), EM 2 (Finders, Sylvester). Total Fouls–WM 18, EM 10. Fouled Out–none.