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Banged-up Bobcats giving young players an opportunity

The Marshalltown boys’ basketball team fields a younger team this season that at the same time is already facing injuries from the preseason.

However, for second-year head coach Michael Appel, it’s an opportunity for younger players to gain experience.

“We’re just missing a couple of guys who are going to be a big part of what we do obviously,” Appel said. “Our motto is if you are out, we have to have our next guy ready. What a great opportunity for these guys and once they are back we’ll get them in the rotation again.

“The guys we have now have to understand their roles and do what they need to do.”

The Bobcats, who were 8-12 last season, will miss returners Kabba Pins and Austin Shomo. Shomo averaged 3.8 points per game while Pins averaged 1.8 points. Marshalltown will lean on experienced power forward Will Van Buren, who averaged 3.1 points and 2.9 rebounds per game.

“He’s got to be a guy we lean on as a leader and be vocal,” Appel said of Van Buren. “We have Austin Shomo who’s played varsity basketball since his sophomore year. He’s out in a boot injured so that hurts us a bit. Kabba Pins was kind of our backup point guard last year sometimes starting at a guard position, [and he] is out with a knee injury until probably after the Christmas break. Those two seniors we were kind of banking on being in our starting lineup are out. We are looking for guys to step up and be the guy.”

The Bobcats’ most notable returner is sophomore Armonniey Thomas, who was second on last year’s team averaging 10.4 points per game.

“We have Armonniey Thomas back who is a sophomore and started for us as a freshman last year,” Appel said. “We have Trevor Stamp back and he’d played backup post, he’ll see a lot of minutes inside. His backup Aidan DeVolder is a big boy, who is about 6-foot-6, who will see a lot of minutes in there.

“We’re pulling up freshman Drake Kapayou to run the point guard so there is just a lot of inexperience that we are trying to figure out. I think they are ready and I’m going to try and put them in a position to be successful.”

The Bobcats opened the 2018-19 season with a 7-3 record and averaged 57.3 points per game. However, the strength of conference play got the better of Marshalltown and the team’s scoring average dropped to 49.4 points per contest. As a result, it has led to Appel to tweak his offense.