Trojans win fourth straight over Spartans
TAMA — In the second game of the reunion of former NICL West Division rivals Grundy Center and South Tama County, the Spartans came in looking to end a three-game skid to the Trojans since STC left for the WaMaC.
That streak didn’t come to an end on Thursday night, however, as South Tama ran away with a 65-48 victory, mainly do to some stellar defense by the host Trojans.
STC head coach Dustin Peska said the key to his team getting victories is playing strong on the defensive end and using that to turn into points on the other side.
“That’s what we really preach, getting after it, get in the passing lanes and deny, deny, deny,” Peska said after the victory. “Transition offense is what it leads to, and when we have active feet and active hands we have enough quick kids that if we get steals and get good rebounds and get out and go, that’s when we are at our best.”
No player exemplified that better for the Spartans (13-5) than senior Nathan Lasley, who took the ball away from Grundy Center (2-16) six times on his own and used those takeaways to generate 12 points on fast breaks.
Lasley said what helps him play that tough on both ends is the conditioning Peska and the rest of the coaches put the Trojans through.
“I felt pretty good because I felt lighter and faster from all the sprints we do in practice,” Lasley said. “I play hard on defense because defense wins games.”
Lasley was just one of five STC players to finish the night in double digits. Sterling Tyon led the way with 16 points, including four makes from 3-point land, while Keith Keahna joined Lasley with 12 and Gabe Shields and Justus Ward both finished with 10.
Peska said that ability to have any guy score on a given night paired with the way his team plays defense makes them extra dangerous, especially when looking at postseason play.
“One guy can score 15, 20, 25 points one night and the next night it’s another guy,” Peska said. “We just always pick each other up and that’s what we are about. We have had kids that are sick or hurt and that’s what it’s all about, picking up each other.”
At the start of the game there was a palpable energy that only comes from two teams and fanbases who enjoy playing with, and beating, each other, and Peska said even though they don’t meet up as much as they used to, this is still a game the Trojans circle on their schedule.
“I think it is a little bit of a rivalry game. We are pretty close, what are we 25 or 30 minutes away?” Peska said. “It’s a short trip for whoever goes wherever, and it’s all about winning. We want to win every game we play, it doesn’t matter if we are winning by one or 100.”
As for Grundy Center, 10 different Spartans actually scored in the game, though none of them reached double digits. Drew Rathe led them in scoring with eight points, all of which came in the second quarter, while Sage Klar and and Joseph Johnson each had seven.
There were spurts where Grundy Center made South Tama work, even getting the lead down to just five points in the second quarter, but then the Trojans would make a couple steals and layups and extend the lead again.
Spartans head coach Joe Nelson said his guys having nothing to be ashamed of in losing to a good team two classes ahead of themselves.
“We played well, the kids played hard. This is always a tough place to play, I enjoy the environment and it’s a tough environment,” Nelson said. “Some of our kids are used to it and they play hard, they really do. The type of defense they play, it’s hard to mimic it, but they play hard and we just have to find things to fix it. We put in some things to help us out and at times it helped and at times we were careless with the basketball. Overall I told the kids ‘don’t hang your heads. You played hard, you competed, but from us coming from 1A to 3A it’s tough.'”
The Spartans and Trojans are both back in action tonight, as Grundy Center heads to Eldora for their NICL West finale against South Hardin, starting at 7:45 p.m., while South Tama heads to Marion for a WaMaC West tilt, starting at 7:30 p.m.
South Tama County 65, Grundy Center 48
GRUNDY CENTER (2-15) — Drew Rathe 3 0-0 8, Cale Hendricks 2 0-0 4, Mitchell Munson 1 0-0 3, Josh Kuiper 0 0-0 0, Joe Johnson 3 1-1 7, Travis Kuester 1 0-0 3, Sage Klar 3 0-0 7, Caleb Kuiper 0 0-0 0, Brady Jacobsen 0 0-0 0, Derek Ciddio 1 0-0 2, Tanner Phillips 0 0-0 0, Tanner Appel 2 0-0 5, Matt Sternhagen 0 0-0 0, Landon Graham 2 0-0 4. TOTALS 20 1-1 48.
SOUTH TAMA (13-5) — Kaiden Buffalo 0 0-0 0, Nathan Lasley 6 0-0 12, Jake Wilkerson 0 0-2 0, Tim Evans 1 1-2 3, Shaye Betz 0 2-4 2, Justus Ward 4 2-4 10, Gabe Shields 5 0-0 10, Jackson Beltz 0 0-0 0, Hector Ramirez 0 0-0 0, Lane Koch 0 0-0 0, Roger Florez 0 0-0 0, Keith Keahna 5 2-3 12, Sterling Tyon 6 0-0 16, Wyatt Crain 0 0-0 0. TOTALS 27 7-10 65.
GRUNDY C. 7 16 13 12 — 48
S. TAMA 17 13 26 9 — 65
3-Point Goals–GC 7 (Rathe 2, Kuester, Klar, Jacobsen, Munson, Appel), STC 4 (Tyon 4). Total Fouls–GC 15, STC 10. Fouled Out–none.