West Marshall breaks free of upstart Spartans, 76-47

STATE CENTER – The Spartans kept pace with the Trojans early.

Once West Marshall shifted gears defensively, Grundy Center was left in the dust.

Outscoring the Spartans 31-9 over a six-minute span bridging the first two quarters, the West Marshall boys’ basketball team sprinted past Grundy Center 76-47 in NICL West Division action Friday.

Christian Vis tallied a game-high 19 points and five 3-pointers to lead the Trojans to their fifth straight victory, while snapping the Spartan’s three-game win streak.

The squads traded buckets through the first few minutes and while the Spartans were able to get some points in transition – Grundy Center coach Rollie Ackerman admitted trying to run with the Trojans can backfire in a hurry.

“Anytime you play West Marshall, that’s kind of dangerous,” Ackerman said.

“You don’t want to get into a running meet with them because they’re so quick.”

Trailing 10-9 midway through the first, Vis triggered the Trojans’ blitz with a pair of treys as West Marshall scored 11 of the next 15 points to lead 20-14 entering the second quarter.

The Trojans’ defense jumped the passing lanes for several transition buckets including four straight steals from Jacob Pszanka as West Marshall widened the gap to 40-19 with 3:13 left in the second and led 44-26 at the half.

“The boys turned it up a little bit,” West Marshall coach Paul deNeui said of his team’s defense.

“We like to run. We started running and things went our way. Of course, we also shot pretty well tonight.”

While Vis and Duncan Ferch (18 points) each had it going offensively, the Trojans (11-2, 9-0) also received solid outings from Reggie Gradwell (12 points), Matt Van Metre (6 points) and Clayton Green (6 points). Nine different players scored for West Marshall, which has steadily seen an emergence in scoring from other players outside of its top tandem.

“That is one thing that has slowly developed for us,” deNeui said.

“At first we were kind of a one or two-dimensional team when it came to scoring but we’ve got some kids who are developing confidence and being more aggressive. That’s what we want. We need to be more balanced if we’re going to get better.”

Dylan Lyman and Brady Hook combined for 16 of the Spartans’ 18 points in the third quarter to trim the deficit to 60-43, before the Trojans raced away again in the fourth.

Vis, who had just four points on a 2-for-7 outing in the teams’ first meeting (a 43-29 victory for the Trojans) canned three 3s during a 90-second span in the fourth as the Trojans led by as many as 30 in the rout.

“Vis really shot the ball well tonight,” Ackerman said.

“The first time we played them he didn’t shoot that well, but tonight he really stepped it up.”

Lyman led the Spartans (3-10, 2-7) with 14 points and Hook had 13. Elliot Eggleston scored eight.

The Trojans face Denver today in the NICL Showdown at Wartburg College, before battling South Tama on the road Tuesday. The Spartans entertain East Marshall Tuesday.