Trojans dial in from distance
STATE CENTER – The Trojans’ usual suspects got things started.
Their supporting cast finished the job.
Bouncing back from a two-game skid, the West Marshall boys’ basketball team spread out the Cougars’ defense by knocking down 10 3-pointers en route to a 70-54 victory over AGWSR in NICL West Division action Tuesday.
“They were doing a good job of bottling up Duncan (Ferch) and Christian (Vis),” West Marshall coach Paul deNeui said. “They started taking them away, so it was good to see our other players come up and hit some big shots for us.”
Elijah Streeter came through with two of the biggest.
With the Trojans (15-4, 12-1) clinging to a two-point lead, Streeter buried back-to-back triples to stretch the margin to 40-32 midway through the third.
“Elijah did a great job hitting some big shots for us tonight,” deNeui said.
Josh Bagley, who poured in a game-high 29 points, trimmed the deficit back to three with a 3-point play and a pair of free throws, before another Trojan delivered from deep. Reggie Gradwell, one of four West Marshall players to hit multiple treys, connected from beyond the arc to push the margin to 43-37 late in the frame.
The Cougars twice cut the lead to four, but couldn’t bridge the gap as Duncan Ferch hit a jumper to spring a 10-0 run for the Trojans as West Marshall claimed a 58-43 advantage and never saw their lead dip below nine the rest of the way.
Ferch couldn’t be stopped early as he scored 12 of his team-high 24 points in the opening quarter and the Trojans held an 18-17 edge after the first.
Back-to-back treys from Vis capped an 8-0 surge for the Trojans who led by nine late in the second before Bagley hit a pair of buckets to close the deficit to 32-27 at the break. The Cougars scored the first four points of the third, before Matt Van Metre (13 points) added a bucket and Streeter stepped in.
“They just had a lot of kids step up and knock down shots,” AGWSR coach Russ Banzhaf said. “Ferch hit quite a few in the first half so we went to a different defense to try and contain him. Then Vis went off and we went to a defense to contain the two of them.
Neither approach could slow down the Trojans’ balanced attack as Streeter had 11 points, Vis tallied 10 and Gradwell finished with eight.
Though Bagley was eight points above his season average, no other Cougars reached double digits as Braden Bonewitz had nine and Derek Schipper added six.
Coming off a pair of losses last week and the end of a 44-game conference win streak, deNeui addressed his squad with some changes that needed to be made.
“We talked yesterday about reasserting ourselves,” deNeui said. “We needed to change a few things and some of it was just mental. They took care of those things tonight and we ended up with a good win.”
The Trojans close the regular season on the road against South Hardin Friday and Dike-New Hartford Tuesday. The Cougars entertain Jesup Thursday and South Tama Friday, before facing Meskwaki on the road Monday.
The Trojans won the previous meeting 49-36 in Ackley Dec. 18. … Austin Heitland, the Cougars’ second leading scorer (10.1 ppg), is still on crutches after sustaining a foot injury against Gladbrook-Reinbeck Jan. 11.