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Southeast Polk pushes Bobcats aside, 83-16

T-R PHOTO BY ROSS THEDE - A pass intended for Marshalltown’s Olivia Brintnall, left, is taken away by Southeast Polk’s Grace Larkins during the first half of Tuesday’s CIML Iowa Conference basketball game at the Roundhouse.

The Class 5A No. 2 Southeast Polk girls’ basketball team conducted a clinic on transition offense on Tuesday night at the Roundhouse, using host Marshalltown as its unwilling test subject.

The Bobcats surrendered the first nine points of the game to transition baskets for the second-ranked Rams and Southeast Polk posted an 83-16 victory over MHS in their second CIML Iowa Conference contest of the winter.

The Rams (11-1, 4-1) ran out to a 27-2 lead in the first quarter alone, scoring either layups or 3-pointers nearly the entire way and rinse out the remnants of their first loss of the season a night earlier to No. 6 Waukee.

After falling by a season-high 67 points, the Bobcats (2-11, 0-5) host those same Warriors on Friday night.

“Both teams were coming off a game — they lost to Waukee and we had a long road trip to Mason City — and I think they felt like they came in with something to prove, they wanted to wash that taste out,” MHS head coach Brian Murphy said of Southeast Polk. “We came in and it felt like we were flat after the first three minutes. That first punch kind of knocked us back. We pushed back a little bit in the second quarter, which I felt good about, but at that point the hole was so deep it was pretty tough to do much.”

T-R PHOTO BY ROSS THEDE - Marshalltown’s Gabby Himes (30) splits Southeast Polk defenders Brooke Woodyard (42) and Brooklin Dailey for a layup in the first quarter of Tuesday’s game at the Roundhouse.

Gabby Himes got the Bobcats on the scoreboard for the first time at the 4:35 mark of the first quarter, by which time the Rams led 9-2, but Marshalltown didn’t score again until the 4:02 mark of the second period. Southeast Polk used a 22-0 run to put the game out of reach before the first half had reached its end.

Priscila Vergara and Lily Roberts hit back-to-back 3-pointers and Madi Finch made two free throws to give Marshalltown an eight-point surge in the midpoint of the second quarter, but the Rams fought back by tallying the final 12 points of the period.

Southeast Polk outscored MHS 22-6 in the third quarter before the Bobcats were blanked in the fourth, 13-0.

“We knew they were going to spread the floor and try to attack and our number one goal was to limit uncontested shots,” said Murphy. “We wanted a hand in their face. We know they’re going to knock some shots down even contested, but we wanted to limit the number of wide-open shots and I thought we struggled in that part of the game pretty much throughout the game.

“They do a great job moving without the ball and our communication just wasn’t there and that’s been the story of our defense: when we talk our defense looks pretty good, and when we don’t we wind up giving up a lot of open looks and that was kind of the story of the game tonight I thought.”

T-R PHOTO BY ROSS THEDE

Southeast Polk had four starters score in double figures: Brooklin Dailey and Rylie Kruse had 18 points apiece, Grace Larkins tallied 16 points and Jaycie Elliott added 11 more. Jessica Stuart, the only senior on the Rams’ roster, had two points.

Larkins led the Rams with five rebounds, five assists, four blocks and four steals.

Vergara led the Bobcats with five points, Finch finished with four points, and Roberts added three. Erica Johnson and Gabby Himes both chipped in a bucket.

“I thought we had moments where our offense looked OK,” Murphy said. “I think one of the things you can see, especially when you’re contrasting with a team like Southeast Polk, is where most of our cuts or most of our actions are always a step slow. With a team like Southeast Polk that’s very disciplined on defense, their defense is a step ahead and our offense is a step slow and that’s a tough formula for success.”

Marshalltown finished with 22 field-goal attempts for the game while committing 20 turnovers. Southeast Polk excelled on the other end of those MHS miscues, converting layups or finding sharpshooters set up for 3-point tries while the Bobcat defense struggled to match up.

T-R PHOTO BY ROSS THEDE

The Rams shot 12-for-16 from 3-point range (75 percent) and 35-of-52 from the field (67 percent).

On Friday, the Bobcats are scheduled to meet sixth-ranked Waukee for the first of two times this season.

“One of the things we’ve been preaching all season is our practices have to match the intensity of the game, and we have not gotten to that point yet,” said Murphy. “That’s going to be our focus prepping for Friday. We have to match their physicality. We know they’re going to pick us up full court, they’re fast and they’re athletic, so we’ve got to get into each other’s faces this week in practice to prep for that.”

Southeast Polk 83, Marshalltown 16

At Marshalltown

SE POLK (11-1, 4-1) — Jaycie Elliott 4 0-0 11, Grace Larkins 7 1-1 16, Jessica Stuart 1 0-0 2, Brooklin Dailey 8 0-0 18, Rylie Kruse 7 0-0 18, Jacie Mitchell 0 0-0 0, Sydney McNeeley 0 0-0 0, Tara Sullivan 0 0-0 0, Stella Charleston 2 0-0 6, Magda McGowan 2 0-0 4, Izzy McCool 0 0-0 0, Brooke Woodyard 1 0-0 2, Kadence Williams 3 0-0 6. TOTALS 35 1-1 83.

MARSHALLTOWN (2-11, 0-5) — Erica Johnson 1 0-0 2, Lily Roberts 1 0-0 3, Madi Finch 1 2-2 4, Priscila Vergara 2 0-0 5, Gabby Himes 1 0-0 2, Aida Almanza 0 0-0 0, Emma Younkin 0 0-0 0, Avygail Smith 0 0-0 0, Olivia Brintnall 0 0-0 0. TOTALS 6 2-2 16.

SE POLK 27 21 22 13 — 83

MHS 2 8 6 0 — 16

3-Point Goals–SEP 12 (Kruse 4, Elliott 3, Dailey 2, Charleston 2, Larkins), MHS 2 (Roberts, Vergara). Total Fouls–SEP 7, MHS 6. Fouled Out–none.