Slow start plagues ’Cats on Senior Night
Sometimes the emotions of a Senior Night can work against the end result. That may have been what happened Tuesday at the Roundhouse for the Marshalltown boys’ basketball team.
The Bobcats trailed 18-5 in the first quarter and played from behind the rest of the way as Des Moines North tripped Marshalltown, 56-51, spoiling what was supposed to be a celebratory night for 10 Bobcat seniors.
“You never know how kids are going to react for Senior Night,” MHS coach Scott Smith said. “There are plenty of emotions in the locker room before the game. We just came out flat and North was firing on all cylinders.”
Marshalltown (6-15) battled back with strong defense and nearly found a way to win despite not playing its best basketball on the offensive end. In the end though, North came through with some big 3-pointers and Marshalltown missed some key free throws down the stretch.
“It seemed like every time we got anything going and closed the gap, they would hit a big three,” Smith said. “Credit North. We had our chances, but the slow start was a big factor.”
Blake Gimbel had just two points at halftime and three points after three quarters, but he and fellow senior Blake Judkins did what they could to rally the Bobcats back from a large deficit. Gimbel finished with 14 points and seven rebounds in the game, while Judkins added 12 points. Senior De’Quan McDowell had eight points and four rebounds and senior Hunter Hillygus scored seven.
“I really like this senior class,” Smith said. “They come to work for me every day. It was a disappointed locker room. I feel bad for them.”
While the MHS seniors played a monumental role in rallying the Bobcats back, none of those performances could stack up to Terrance Bush Jr.
Bush hit four 3-pointers, hit four free throws in the final minute and scored a game-high 24 points to lead the Polar Bears to their 12th win of the year. Samuel Williams Jr. also scored 13 points for North, which snapped a two-game losing streak with the win.
North (12-8) led 18-9 after one quarter, but Marshalltown got to within four late in the first half after senior Riley Wirth hit two free throws. North’s six-point halftime lead grew to as large as 13 in the third quarter. The Bobcats though got two free throws from Judkins and a Wirth 3 to close to within eight heading into the fourth quarter. It was the first 3-pointer of the game for MHS.
Gimbel started the fourth quarter with five straight points to get MHS to within four. But Bush answered with a deep 3 and scored another bucket inside to make it a nine-point game.
The Bobcats got to within four multiple times down the stretch but couldn’t come up with the big shot to get any closer.
Not converting free throws in the final minutes also halted the rally. The Bobcats were 13-of-19 from the line in the game.
“We had chances,” Smith said. “They got a couple technical fouls called on them but we only made two of those four and just couldn’t get over the hump.”
The Bobcats usually rely on making a lot of 3-pointers but only connected on four in the game. All four triples were in the final eight minutes, but Smith said the gameplan Tuesday was to get the ball into the lane.
“We did a lot of things well tonight, and we wanted to take the ball to the hole,” Smith said. “We executed on those drives. We attacked the rim and it worked for a big portion of this game.”
The Bobcats will take this loss into Monday’s home playoff game against Southeast Polk. The Rams beat Marshalltown at the Roundhouse earlier this season. Smith said the matchups in that game will be a lot like they were against North.
“Southeast Polk is very similar to North,” Smith said. “It will come down to playing defense. We have to play well at that end of the floor, and if we do that, we’ll have a chance.”
The 10 seniors recognized before the game were Gimbel, Judkins, Wirth, McDowell, Kluver, Hillygus, Eli Devine, Zach Wells, Luke Madsen and foreign exchange student Johann Trousland. … Bush entered the game averaging 18.5 points per game. Teyontae Jenkins averages 17 points per game but was held to just nine Tuesday.