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Bobcat boys dodge upset, win fifth straight

T-R PHOTO BY THORN COMPTON - Marshalltown freshman guard Armonniey Thomas (10) takes the ball to the hoop after recording a steal while Fort Dodge defender Tysen Kershaw, behind, looks on in the first quarter of the Bobcats’ 42-40 win over the Dodgers at home on Friday in the Roundhouse.

Points were at a premium when the Marshalltown boys basketball team hosted Fort Dodge in the Roundhouse on Friday night.

Through three quarters of play the Bobcats held a 20-16 advantage over the Dodgers, but in the fourth quarter both offenses woke up in a big way.

Fort Dodge went off for 24 points in the final frame but MHS matched with 22 of its own, just enough to come away with a 42-40 win, the Bobcats’ fifth straight.

Marshalltown head coach Michael Appel said it didn’t look pretty, but he’s not giving back that victory any time soon.

“It’s better to win ugly than lose ugly, every single time I will take that,” he said with a grin. “I am just hoping one of these times we can get everything figured out and get it all clicking, but give Fort Dodge credit. This is something we hadn’t seen up to this point and our guys weren’t ready for it. Being 5-1 right now, we are off to a great start.”

T-R PHOTO BY THORN COMPTON - Marshalltown senior Sunday Arou (54) puts up a hook shot over Fort Dodge’s Grant Barber during the Bobcats’ 42-40 win over the Dodgers in the Roundhouse on Friday.

At halftime the Bobcats (5-1, 2-0) led 11-9 over the Dodgers (1-6, 0-2), but neither team could get anything going while possessing the ball.

Appel said when his offense is struggling, particularly when playing against a lengthy defense like Fort Dodge has, he is happy he can rely on the other side of the ball.

“We were taking good shots I thought, we were doing good things other than a few turnovers that I thought were unforced,” Appel said. “At the end of the day you’ve got to rely on your defense, that doesn’t change how we are playing. Our guys have really bought into that and we need to continue to do that. It doesn’t matter if we are struggling on the offensive end, the defense is a completely different deal. We have to stay locked in there and stay focused, we know we will eventually start making shots and it will go our way.”

In the third quarter things heated up a little bit for Marshalltown, with Sunday Arou particularly getting going with six points of the nine Bobcat points in the frame.

At one point in the fourth quarter Marshalltown owned as much as an eight-point lead, but for every step the Bobcats took forward the Dodgers were able to match and then some.

T-R PHOTO BY THORN COMPTON

“Fort Dodge started to play with a little more sense of urgency there in the fourth and I don’t know if our guys were getting tired or just weren’t focusing on where they needed to be defensively or not matching up where they needed to, but I felt like we gave up a lot of easy buckets to the hoop that we weren’t doing in the first half,” Appel said.

Ultimately it was some good shooting from the free-throw line that led the Bobcats to the victory, as they went 9-for-12 from the charity stripe compared to a 5-for-10 mark from Fort Dodge.

Freshman Armonniey Thomas was 4-for-4 in his two trips in the fourth quarter, and he had five huge steals on defense that all led to immediate transition offense for MHS.

“As a freshman knocking those free throws down late in the game, that was pretty impressive to see from him,” Appel said. “He looked pretty calm to me, and that’s a great sign any time you can have that happen. He was doing some really good things in our three-quarter press where we are trying to trap them, he was anticipating those passes really well and got some steals off of those.”

Thomas said when he went to the line his head was swimming with the enormity of the situation, but he just had to take a moment and regain his focus.

T-R PHOTO BY THORN COMPTON

“I had to take my time and bring some confidence to myself, make sure I focused on the shot and didn’t push it too hard,” Thomas said. A lot of stuff was going through my mind at the time.”

Bennett O’Hare was big from the foul line in the fourth as well, going 5-for-6 at the line. O’Hare had seven of his team-high 11 points in the fourth, while Jacob Smith had six of his 10 points in the final frame as well.

Thomas and Arou followed O’Hare and Smith with seven points each, then came Will Van Buren with four.

Arou and Van Buren were both big on the offensive and defensive ends of the court, and Appel said they were a big part of why his team won its fifth straight.

“In that zone we knew we could kind of attack the middle then drift to the baseline where they were going to get some open looks and opportunities to finish at the hoop strong,” Appel said. “For the most part they did a good job of that, we need to continue to look inside a little more with Sunday. I think we can get him a few more post touches in there and get him involved earlier in the game.”

Jace Peterson led Fort Dodge with 14 points, followed by Isaiah Alvarez with 10. Alvarez got all 10 of his points in the fourth quarter, while eight of Peterson’s also came in the final eight minutes.

Appel said that just goes to show how tough his team was playing in the first three quarters.

“For three quarters we were really solid there, they were having a hard time to score,” he said. Excellent, excellent defense for the first three quarters, any time you can hold a team to nine points at halftime, that doesn’t happen too often.”

Now the Bobcats have the weekend to prepare for their next game on Tuesday, a road test against West Des Moines Valley, and Appel said he knows exactly what his guys will be doing in practice.

“We need to get in here and shoot probably 1,000 shots it looks like to me,” he said, only slightly kidding. “We’ve got so many good shooters on our team that I’m not worried about that though, those are going to start falling for us.”

The Bobcats and Tigers will face off on Tuesday in West Des Moines, starting at 7:45 p.m.

Marshalltown 42, Fort Dodge 40

At Marshalltown

FORT DODGE (1-6, 0-2) — Jace Peterson 6 2-3 14, Tysen Kershaw 3 4-9 10, D’Arien Calahan 0 0-0 0, Malihk Lockman 1 0-0 3, Jordan Jackson 3 0-0 6, Rodney Tilawen 0 0-0 0, Isaiah Alvarez 0 0-0 0, Tre Preston 0 0-0 0, Asle Thorson 0 1-2 1, Grant Barber 1 1-2 3, Dayson Clayton 1 1-2 3. TOTALS 15 9-18 40.

MARSHALLTOWN (5-1, 2-0) — Armonniey Thomas 1 5-6 7, Austin Shomo 1 0-0 3, Bennett O’Hare 3 5-6 11, Jacob Smith 4 2-2 10, Sunday Arou 2 3-4 7, Kabba Pins 0 0-0 0, Will Van Buren 2 0-4 4. TOTALS 12 15-22 42.

FORT DODGE 2 7 7 24 — 40

MHS 7 4 9 22 — 42

3-Point Goals–FD 1 (Lockman), MHS 1 (Shomo). Total Fouls–FD 20, MHS 15. Fouled Out–Peterson, Kershaw.