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GMG boys pull away from Colo-NESCO

T-R PHOTO BY NOAH ROHLFING - GMG’s Avery Bryant (0) goes up for the reverse layup in front of Colo-NESCO defenders Tanner Ingle (32) and Francis Bower during the first half of Friday’s Iowa Star Conference South Division clash.

GARWIN — GMG forward Avery Bryant set the tone for Friday night’s battle between the Wolverines and the Colo-NESCO Royals with his first basket of the day — a physical finish in the paint. The Wolverines were physical and aggressive all night, and in the fourth quarter, it led to a 54-36 win over the Royals.

The game was fast-paced from the start, with both teams looking to get out in transition and get fast-break points. Some of the finishes were sloppy and the defenses were playing tough — GMG and Colo-NESCO were each running a variation of a zone defense, with the Royal stretching their defense out to full-court. At the end of the first, it was 15-8 GMG after a Bryant buzzer-beater from 18 feet. GMG coach Michael Plett said Bryant’s post presence has been crucial for the Wolverines.

“We’re trying to feature him inside, and it showed tonight,” Plett said. “Avery’s a big part of our team.”

The Wolverines continued their strong first-half play in the second quarter, keeping pace with Colo-NESCO and pushing the lead to 27-19 heading into halftime.

The third quarter was full of more back-and-forth action as the Royals continued to use a full-court trap to try and create chaos. GMG was fairly safe with the ball but took its chances to attack the open space left by the Royals committing bodies to the trap.

T-R PHOTO BY NOAH ROHLFING

“I thought we handled their pressure very well,” Plett said. “Kids were in the right spots, made the right reads, made the right passes.”

Leading by 10 at the end of the third, the Wolverines quickly got a bucket to go up 12.

Then the Royals started to make a comeback. GMG got sloppy with the ball and began to rush decisions, which led to Colo-NESCO fast-break points and free throws. The resulting 7-0 run put the Royals back within five and forced Plett to call two timeouts to slow down the potential collapse his team was staring in the face.

The Wolverines have been a first-half team all year long, Plett said.

But after the timeouts, GMG settled down and got its confidence back. Kooper Gill led the Wolverines in the fourth to a 13-0 run to close out the game with a big conference win. Gill led all scorers with 16 points, while Bryant chipped in 12 for the Wolverines and Adam Cox added 10.

The win over the Royals moves GMG to 3-10 on the season. With a young, thin roster, Plett said he was happy with the progress the team has shown. However, he said it’s imperative the Wolverines learn from this win and figure out how to be a second-half team.

“That’s the inflection point for our team,” Plett said. “To win a close game you have to make free throws and you have to handle pressure, and those are two areas where our team has improved a lot.”

GMG 54, Colo-NESCO 36

At Garwin

COLO-NESCO (1-11, 1-6) — Brighton Clatt 3 2-7 10, Jack McKinney 3 1-4 7, Francis Bower 4 0-2 8, Ryan Wonders 2 0-0 5, Tanner Ingle 2 0-2 4, Kenny Cutler 0 0-0 0, Luke Hill 0 0-0 0, Bradley Thomas 1 0-0 2, Ephram Muntz 0 0-0 0, Trevor Burg 0 0-0 0, Spencer Hansen 0 0-0 0. TOTALS 15 3-15 36.

GMG (3-10, 2-5) — Avery Bryant 6 0-2 12, Justin Savadty 2 0-0 6, Kooper Gill 6 4-6 16, Adam Cox 3 3-5 10, Abe Dieleman 1 1-2 3, Mykell Ratliff 3 0-0 7, Seth Burgess 0 0-0 0. TOTALS 21 816 54.

COLO-NESCO 8 11 10 7 — 36

GMG 15 12 14 13 — 54

3-Point Goals–C-N 3 (Clatt 2, Wonders), GMG 4 (Savadty 2, Cox, Ratliff). Total Fouls–C-N 18, GMG 16. Fouled Out–Clatt.