Shorthanded Huskies still too much for Bobcats in opener
The Des Moines Hoover boys’ basketball team was without its best player and five of its top seven for the season opener against Marshalltown on Tuesday.
Coach Courtney Henderson needed a big night out of his senior leader and Malachi Canada responded.
Canada scored 26 points, while Alijah Thomas added 16 as the Huskies opened the season with a 59-48 victory over the Bobcats in the Roundhouse.
“We knew coming in to tonight’s game that we were pretty beat up,” Henderson said. “We knew it was going to be a struggle. This is a tough place to play. We are just happy to get out of here tonight with the win.”
One of the missing Huskies was last year’s leading scorer Chris King, who is out for the first three games for disciplinary reasons, according to Henderson. He averaged 13.5 points per game last season.
The game was tied at halfitme, but Marshalltown struggled to stay in front of the Huskies in the second half and Canada was just too good down the stretch.
“Hoover’s quickness and athleticism is tough to match up with,” said Marshalltown coach Scott Smith. “Canada is a great player. We had a hard time matching up with him and he got a lot of easy baskets. Our kids competed really hard. I just thought in the third and fourth quarter, they stretched our defense out and were able to get to the hole.”
Points were tough to come by in the first two quarters as neither team got into much of a rhythm. Hoover led by two after one but the Bobcats stayed in the game with aggressive drives to the hoop.
Marshalltown was 18-of-23 from the line in the loss.
“Our guys did a nice job of taking advantage of the new hand-checking rule,” Smith said. “It was a well-fought game. The mistakes we made are correctable.
“Obviously, we want to win, but this first game will show us what we need to work on and we’ll get back to work tomorrow and try to shore those things up.”
Hoover jumped out to a 5-0 lead in the first quarter but Mason McCarville kept the score close with two 3-pointers. He ended up with three triples in the game and finished with nine points.
Hoover again grabbed a five-point advantage in the second quarter. MHS (0-1) refused to go away quietly as Dylan Diveney nailed four free throws and Aaron Hauser put in three points in the period.
Canada asserted himself in the third quarter with the game still close. With his team up just two points midway through the period, he put in three straight buckets for the Huskies and a 3 from Thomas made it a six-point game heading into the final frame.
The Bobcats closed within three in the fourth frame but couldn’t get any closer because Canada hit a big shot every time his team needed it. His buckets in the fourth kept the margin in double figures and the closest the Bobcats got in the final 2:32 was seven after Austin Kluver connected on a 3 and Hauser banged home two free throws.
“We expect that out of him,” Henderson said of Canada. “He is our senior leader and our first-team all-conference player. He performed well tonight.”
Hauser led the Bobcats with 11 points, while Connor Johnson and Dylan Diveney each had eight. Diveney also had six rebounds, while Johnson and Kluver each pulled down five. Kluver finished with seven points in the loss.
“They competed until the end and that is all you can ask,” Smith said.
Canada also had eight rebounds to go along with his 26 points. The Huskies were just 11-of-19 at the line but made up for it with quick drives and easy layups.
“We are not a very tall team so we have to use our quickness and get to the basket and we were able to do that tonight,” Henderson said.
Smith said the Bobcats will always look to shoot the 3 but will not settle for it this year. The new rules for hand checking will allow the Bobcats to take advantage of some aggressive drives to the hoop. And Smith feels like that could help his squad as the season progresses. “We want to have an inside-outside game, too. We have some kids that turn the corner and get to the hole and that will help us this year. We won’t face a team that athletic all season long. … Courtney Henderson is the older half-brother of former Iowa basketball player Mike Henderson. The Huskies were 18-3 last year.