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Bobcats content with last home loss

MHS girls fall to 13th-ranked Little Cyclones

T-R PHOTO BY ROSS THEDE - Marshalltown senior Madi Finch shoots amidst Ames defenders Caroline Waite (4), Morgan Seibert (11) and Ireland Buss, far right, during the first half of Tuesday’s cross-CIML girls’ basketball game at the Roundhouse. Finch, a senior, scored nine points in her final game on George Funk Court.

Starters for four years, Marshalltown High School seniors Erica Johnson and Madi Finch were just fine with a sophomore leading the Bobcat girls’ basketball team in scoring in their final games on the Roundhouse floor.

If nobody takes up the reins, how else can Marshalltown expect to continue improving?

MHS sophomore Lily Roberts scored a career-high 13 points while eight Bobcat seniors competed on the George Funk Court for the last time in a 67-37 loss to Class 5A No. 13 Ames on Tuesday night.

Finch finished with nine points, Johnson had seven and the Bobcats’ two leading scorers for each of their four seasons felt far better about the second half of their final home game than the first.

Ames (10-10) jumped out to a 12-0 lead less than three minutes into the cross-CIML contest, led 24-4 after one quarter and held a 37-11 advantage at the intermission.

T-R PHOTO BY ROSS THEDE - Marshalltown sophomore Lily Roberts (12) scores from the heart of the Ames defense during the fourth quarter of Tuesday’s game at the Roundhouse. Roberts had a career-high 13 points to lead MHS.

But Marshalltown (3-18) outscored the Little Cyclones 16-14 the third quarter and fought for everything they got the rest of the way, even if it wasn’t a rare victory.

“It’s just kind of sad that it’s our last time playing in the Roundhouse, but I feel like we had a good go-out because we played hard,” said Finch. “It was a good way to end.”

Marshalltown made it hard to make it a game against their former rivals to the west by committing nine turnovers in the first quarter and falling asleep in their half-court man-to-man defense. Ames made its bounty with back-door cuts to the basket that resulted in uncontested layups and led the Bobcats facing another insurmountable deficit from the get-go.

MHS didn’t get on the scoreboard until Roberts made 1-of-2 free throws with 3 minutes, 26 seconds left to play in the opening period, and Johnson sank a 3-pointer at the two-minute mark to make it 16-4 Ames.

The Little Cyclones closed the quarter on an 8-0 run, added another in the second and led by 26 at the half.

T-R PHOTO BY ROSS THEDE

“We have not seen a lot of pick-and-roll in the last few games,” MHS head coach Brian Murphy said, “but a lot of it just came down to help defense where they did have a couple posts we were trying to avoid switches down on the block and we were trying to get more helpers in there. Against the team they had in there tonight, we were really only respecting one shooter — obviously No. 4 can really stroke it — so we were really trying to pack the paint more often and it took too long to get there.”

Ames junior point guard Caroline Waite, No. 4 in the program, sank a pair of 3-pointers and finished with a game-high 21 points. The Little Cyclones were playing without their second-leading scorer and most efficient 3-point shooting threat, Ashley Iiams, but didn’t seem to miss her that much.

Ames finished with its third-highest scoring output this season as Marshalltown surrendered at least 67 points for the sixth game in a row.

“Certainly we’ve faced some good competition, but outside shooting has been one of the things that has hurt us all year,” Murphy said. “If you want to stay tight in games, we can’t be giving up 65-plus (points) which I believe we’ve done our last four or five games. It’s hard to outscore teams when they’re scoring that high. Some of that’s talent, but some of it’s just not being disciplined whether it’s gifting teams 12 points off the press-break or just not doing fundamentals like packing the paint.”

Ames became a bit stagnant with its hefty halftime advantage and the Bobcats caught them flat-footed in the third quarter, trading baskets with the Little Cyclones for the entire period. Roberts made three 3-pointers and tallied 10 of her 13 points in the third.

T-R PHOTO BY ROSS THEDE

“Lily showed herself tonight how capable she is, and she was making all those 3s and that’s really good for her,” said Johnson. “She can take that into her next two years and she’ll be really successful.”

It was a bit like Johnson passing down the leading scorer’s torch, from one of Marshalltown’s eight seniors to a key part of the team’s future.

“It’s something we talked about on Senior Night and something we reiterated tonight,” Murphy said. “To have success in any sport you need seniors to step up and set the tone, and certainly we’ve had girls who have stuck it out for four years and we have some girls who decided to just come out this year and I have a lot of respect for all of the seniors that have come in, they’ve gutted it out. Basketball is a long season, and if you don’t have a lot of wins in there it becomes an even longer season and I was really proud of the way we persevered and we really fought through tonight regardless of what the rest of the season looked like.”

Priscila Vergara (4 points), Gabby Himes (2) and Avygail Smith (2) rounded out the team’s scoring, while fellow seniors Aida Almanza, Emma Younkin and Olivia Brintnall also played in their final games at the Roundhouse.

Marshalltown closes the regular season on Friday night at No. 4 Waukee. The Bobcats expect to receive their regional assignment today.

“We just have to focus on what we can do and what we can do to improve,” Finch said, “and we want to go out as best as we can.”

“With a bang!” Johnson said.

Ames 67, Marshalltown 37

At Marshalltown

AMES (10-10) — Brooke Spraggins 4 0-2 8, Caroline Waite 8 3-3 21, Morgan Seibert 2 0-0 4, Teagan Lipsey 6 1-1 14, Kennedy White 3 0-0 6, Ireland Buss 0 0-0 0, Ellie Lynch 0 0-0 0, Elaina Deardorff 0 0-0 0, Leah Tietjens 0 0-0 0, Claire Galvin 0 0-0 0, Maddison Pankonen 1 0-0 3, Madelyn Timmermans 2 1-4 5, Julia Grawe 2 1-1 6, Tiffany Rong 0 0-0 0. TOTALS 27 6-11 67.

MARSHALLTOWN (3-18) — Erica Johnson 2 1-5 7, Lily Roberts 4 2-4 13, Madi Finch 2 5-5 9, Priscila Vergara 2 0-0 4, Gabby Himes 0 2-2 2, Aida Almanza 0 0-0 0, Sophie Younkin 0 0-0 0, Avygail Smith 1 0-0 2, Olivia Brintnall 0 0-0 0. TOTALS 11 10-16 37.

AMES 24 13 14 16 — 67

MHS 4 7 16 10 — 37

3-Point Goals–Ames 6 (Spraggins 2, Waite 2, Lipsey, Pankonen, Grawe), MHS 5 (Roberts 3, Johnson 2). Total Fouls–Ames 17, MHS 10. Fouled Out–none.

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