Spartans dispatch CAL, losing streak
GRUNDY CENTER – The Spartans have walked a fine line between victory and defeat down the final stretch of the regular season.
Over the final six games, the winning side proved to be elusive.
On Monday, they didn’t leave things up to chance.
Jumping out to an 18-4 lead after the first quarter and a 30-point cushion by halftime, the Grundy Center boys’ basketball team left their losing skid in the rearview mirror with a 63-24 rout over CAL in a Class 1A District 8 first-round contest.
The Spartans (6-17) advance to face Gladbrook-Reinbeck (15-6) in a quarterfinal game Thursday at 7 p.m. in Reinbeck.
“Even though we lost a few ballgames near the end, we were right there,” Grundy Center coach Rollie Ackerman said. “It was just a turnover, a missed shot or the other team made a big play that made the difference between a win or a loss.”
The Spartans made nearly all the plays early as Lane Bangasser led the Spartans with 16 points and Ryon Appel added 10 in the wire-to-wire win.
Elliot Eggleston and Bangasser each hit early 3-pointers and Grundy Center’s opportunistic defense triggered a 9-0 run and a double-digit lead less than 6 minutes in.
“We executed our offense very well and we made shots,” Ackerman said. “Right off the bat Elliot hit a big three and then our pressure kind of rattled them a little bit. We were able to get our fast break going and get a lot of easy baskets. That kind of catapulted us into a nice lead at halftime.”
The Spartans found point-blank opportunities at will in the first half as Bangasser closed the half with a layup, 3-pointer and late tip-in to widen the margin to 39-9 at the break. The junior did all his scoring in the first half, while Eggleston chipped in seven points and six assists.
Bryce Moats’ trey set the continuous clock in motion at 50-13 with just more than a minute to play in the third before James Chungu brought the crowd to its feet twice in the fourth.
Chungu, who hit his first basket of the season – a 3-pointer – in the Spartans’ last victory Jan. 13 at Meskwaki, drilled two more before flashing a big grin to the crowd.
“All you have to do is look at that smile,” Ackerman said. “When he hits it and the crowd reacts, the student body here really embraces him. All you have to is look at that smile – it speaks a thousand words.”
While Grundy Center’s intensity has spoken for itself down the homestretch, Monday’s effort also came through on the scoreboard to snap a six-game slide.
“Our effort has been there the last several weeks,” Ackerman said. “Tonight the guys were rewarded and got a nice, solid win.”
Ben Fahrmann led the Cadets (1-21) with 13 points, though no other CAL player had more than four.
Chungu, Dylan Lyman and Riley Wells each chipped in six for the Spartans.
CAL made just 3-of-10 free throws, while Grundy Center was 1-for-7. … Gladbrook-Reinbeck swept the season series against the Spartans defeating them 74-44 on Dec. 11 in Reinbeck and 58-46 on Jan. 18 in Grundy Center. The winner of Thursday’s contest advances to play the victor of Northeast Hamilton at AGWSR in a district semifinal Feb. 19 at a site to be determined.