Little Cyclones plenty big for Bobcats

The effort was gritty and the performance was inspired.

But undersized and undermanned, the Marshalltown boys’ basketball team couldn’t keep Ames off the boards early and often falling 64-48 in a Central Iowa Conference Northern Division game at the Roundhouse Friday.

Sam Straub led the Little Cyclones with 25 points and 14 rebounds as Ames used a pair of 7-0 runs to create enough separation early.

Straub started and finished the first run with a trey and two free throws as the visitors jumped out to a 12-5 advantage late in the first.

Second-chance opportunities were a theme for the Little Cyclones all night and Straub’s tip-in sparked the next flurry. Another putback from the 6-foot-3 senior and a wide-open 3-pointer for Nate Munn stretched the gap to 21-11 midway through the second.

“Their aggressiveness on the offensive glass and our inability to secure the initial rebound was a big factor,” Marshalltown coach Scott Smith said. “The kids battled at times, but we were kind of getting pushed underneath the basket so even when we had position, those long rebounds went to them.”

Despite the Little Cyclones’ dominance on the glass, the Bobcats were still within striking distance as Blake Gimbel opened the third quarter with a triple to trim the deficit to 23-18. Justin Sloter answered with a bank-in 3 and Straub triggered six unanswered points for Ames to move ahead 34-22.

Kept off the free throw line in the first half, Smith wanted his squad to attack the basket more in the second half. The Bobcats followed through earning 15 attempts after the break and connecting on 10.

“We gave ourselves a chance but every time we hit a basket – Ames had an answer,” Smith said. “That’s the sign of a good team.”

Gimbel’s 3-point play brought the Bobcats within single digits but Straub tapped in a rebound to beat the buzzer as Ames took a 43-32 cushion into the fourth. Marshalltown couldn’t break the double-digit barrier the rest of the way as Straub scored 10 of the Little Cyclones’ final 14 points to seal it.

Gimbel, still playing his way back from a contusion injury he suffered against Fort Dodge last Friday, led the Bobcats with 13 points. Mason McCarville added nine points in what Smith considered to be “probably his best game of the year” and Blake Judkins had eight. Tyler Kluver, only 48 hours removed from a flu bug, had seven points. The Bobcats were without Riley Wirth, who is out indefinitely with mono.

“I’m not disappointed in the kids’ effort,” Smith said. “Some of the kids played their best basketball and we’re not 100 percent right now. It was a gutty effort.”

Justin Sloter added 15 points, while Shawn Lenz and Nate Munn had 10 apiece for Ames.

The Bobcats head to Ankeny Thursday to face the Class 4A No. 8 ranked Hawks, before continuing the road trek against Mason City Friday. The Bobcats return home for the regular season finale against Des Moines North Feb. 12.

Notebook

Former Bobcat athletes and coaches who competed in the Roundhouse were recognized on the gym floor during halftime. The reunion event helped kickoff the fundraising for the upcoming Roundhouse renovation project. … The Little Cyclones won the previous meeting 74-59 in Ames Dec. 14.