Defense helps Bobcats halt losing streak
Things weren’t looking good for the Marshalltown boys’ basketball team heading into Friday night’s Central Iowa Conference Northern Division matchup with Mason City.
The Bobcats had lost five straight and suffered what coach Scott Smith called “the low point of the season” on Tuesday after losing to Cedar Falls.
However, the Bobcats reversed their fortune Friday thanks to a devoted effort on the defensive end of the floor. Couple that effort with 10 3-pointers and you get a 57-51 win that stopped their own losing streak while extending the Mason City streak to 12 games.
“I think we had lost our confidence during that five-game losing streak,” Smith said. “We challenged them to bring it defensively and commit to that end of the floor and the guys responded tonight.”
Smith gave the seniors a ton of credit. He said he challenged them all individually to lead the team and each and everyone of them responded at both ends of the floor.
Senior Blake Gimbel scored 18 points. De’Quan McDowell pulled down a team-high eight boards. Tyler Kluver buried two triples and set up his teammates for easy buckets. Blake Judkins also hit a couple treys and connected on some late free throws with the game still in doubt.
“I credit the seniors,” Smith said. “They deserve a ton of credit. It’s their last go around and we needed their leadership. They responded for us tonight.”
The Mohawks, who began the season 2-0 but are now 2-12, started with a lead in the first quarter as Andrew Sloan and Jason Kay gave Mason City a 12-8 advantage.
Back-to-back 3-pointers by Gimbel and Kluver gave MHS the lead at 14-12 and the game was tied heading into the second quarter.
The second quarter featured plenty of action and lots of points but neither team gained much of an advantage. The Bobcats led by as many as four but trailed by three at the break following an 8-3 run by Mason City in the closing minutes.
The Bobcats (5-10, 2-1) won the game early in the third quarter. They started the frame with a 9-0 run and never trailed again.
Kay hit a couple more triples in the quarter to keep it close, but the Bobcats used four treys of their own to grab a four-point lead heading into the final frame.
“We needed to come and run and play our game and that is what we talked about at halftime,” Smith said. “That’s when we are at our best. We also made some hustle plays and did the little things. But it all started at the defensive end of the court.”
The fourth quarter featured just 10 combined points. The Mohawks got as close as two points early, but Marshalltown scored four straight to make it a six-point cushion. Judkins then hit a pair of freebies with 17 seconds left to seal the victory.
“There was never a sense of panic,” Smith said. “They had the mindset that they were going to finish it. It was a good effort and a good win and now I can sleep tonight.”
Gimbel’s 18 points included three treys. Judkins had nine points and senior Riley Wirth added seven.
Mason City (2-12, 0-3) was led by Kay’s 19 points. Sloan added 11 and Austin Hammen scored nine.
MHS senior Zach Smith was given the John White scholarship during halftime of the girls’ game. The scholarship is given to a Bobcat senior football player every year in honor of White, who died unexpectedly in 1999. White was a 1968 graduate of MHS.