MHS doesn’t stack up to Ames’ interior game

The Bobcats can run up and down the floor with the best of them.

And in a shootout, they’ve got the gunners to match just about anyone.

But when a bigger and stronger Ames squad opted to take the ball inside consistently in the second half, the Marshalltown boys’ basketball team struggled to hold its weight.

Sam Straub powered the Little Cyclones’ physical presence in the paint with 24 of his game-high 30 points after halftime and Ames used an 8-0 flurry in the third to pull away for a 70-56 victory in a Central Iowa Conference Northern Division game Saturday.

Straub, coming off a 36-point outburst against Mason City on Friday, scored six points during the Little Cyclones’ pivotal run including a pair of layups and another basket inside. The surge stretched Ames’ lead to 11 as Marshalltown (3-14, 0-4) never came closer than six over the final 12 1/2 minutes en route to its eighth straight loss.

“We’ve just really got to get tougher,” MHS coach Scott Smith said. “This is a great group of kids, but it’s such a physical game. If teams start pushing us around, we have to push back. We’re the smallest team in this conference, but we cannot ever use that as an excuse.

“For a good portion of the game you saw us go toe-to-toe with them on the boards with a team that’s much bigger and stronger than us.”

Marshalltown held its own inside and on the perimeter in the early going as the teams combined for 39 points and nine 3-pointers in the opening frame.

The Little Cyclones (8-9, 4-0) scored the final four points of the first to lead by five and threatened to pull away early in the second quarter. Erik Dempsey’s pair of free throws followed a Javan White tip-in to cap 10 unanswered and extend Ames’ lead to 28-17.

The Bobcats rallied back with the next 11 as Dylan Diveney buried back-to-back triples, Brady Arment knocked down another and Aaron Hauser took a steal in for a lay-up to knot the game at 28 with 1:38 remaining in the half.

Michael Frankl’s putback reclaimed the lead for Ames and Dempsey added a layup in the closing seconds to give the Little Cyclones’ a four-point edge at the break. Diveney’s 3 in the opening minute of the third pulled the Bobcats within 34-31 before Ames mounted its big run to build some cushion.

“We settled a little bit in the first half and credit (Marshalltown), they were really shooting the 3 extremely well,” Ames coach Vance Downs said. “They’re very hard to guard and we felt part of guarding them was to play through the paint on our end. In the third quarter we did a good job of that.”

Marshalltown clawed back within 47-39 on McCarville’s triple with 3 minutes left in the third, but Straub took Ames on his shoulders with 12 of the team’s next 13 points, including consecutive triples in the fourth to effectively put things away at 58-43.

“He has so many weapons because he can shoot the 3 or he can post you up,” Smith said of Straub, a 6-foot-3 Southern Illinois football commit. “In the second half he was able to get to the rim and get some second-chance opportunities. He’s such a versatile player that it’s almost impossible to keep a kid like that at bay. … That’s an all-state player.”

While the Bobcats couldn’t match the height or heft of Ames, they more than held their own in mental toughness. McCarville, who led Marshalltown with 15 points, showed that tenacity with a hard drive to the basket that resulted in two points, a foul and a cut above his right eye. With blood dripping from his wound, the senior had things stitched up on the bench before returning to the game a minute later.

“I’m so proud of the kids’ effort. We’ve had our ups and downs but some of the kids are really starting to grow with their mental toughness,” Smith said. “Our mindset the last couple weeks has been to really focus on all 32 (minutes) – to be consistent, play hard, smart and together for all 32 minutes and I thought the kids did that tonight.”

Hauser added 13 points and two triples for the Bobcats, while Diveney added 11 and matched McCarville’s 3-point total with three. Arment chipped in eight points and Austin Kluver had six.

White, a 6-8 junior, and Sam Rathe scored 10 apiece for Ames, while Colby Shane contributed 8. The Little Cyclones finished 17-of-26 from the line led by Straub’s 8-for-14 output, while the Bobcats made 4-of-5.

“Coach told us at halftime we have to go inside-out and that’s how we’re going to get our mismatches,” Straub said. “I knew I just had to get to the basket and the free throw line and everything would flow from there.”

The Bobcats return to the Roundhouse Tuesday to face Ankeny at 7:45 p.m., before traveling to Ames on Friday for another 7:45 tip-off.


Saturday’s game was a make-up, which was originally scheduled for Dec. 20.