Bobcats shake off cold spell
It had been a long time since the Marshalltown girls’ basketball team knew what victory felt like.
The Bobcats last celebrated a win before Christmas when they bettered Newton by double-digits on Dec. 21, but all that changed Monday.
By dominating the boards and hitting clutch free throws in the fourth quarter, Marshalltown’s losing streak stopped at 12 games when they pulled away from Ankeny in the fourth quarter during a 47-35 win in a Central Iowa Conference cross-division contest at the Roundhouse.
“It was a struggle for a long time so getting a win feels good,” said senior point guard Amanda Hughes. “It’s something we needed with only one game left before the playoffs. We can go into our final regular season game on a good note.”
Marshalltown (4-17) hit 14-of-18 from the line in the final frame and broke away from a 30-all tie with a 17-5 run in the final 4 minutes.
And six of Kali Banks’ 10 points in the game came in that final stretch as she started the run with a putback off two missed free throws and then buried 3-of-4 from the line in the final minute to put the game away.
“The offensive boards we got off missed free throws were huge, and Kali’s was huge because she put it right back in,” said Marshalltown coach Stacy O’Hare. “Kali played the best game she played all year – offensively and defensively. She played exceptional tonight.”
Banks finished with 10 points and 10 rebounds for her first career double-double, while Sam Hughes scored a game-high 14 points and yanked down eight boards and Rachel Blagg contributed eight points and 11 rebounds.
“They worked hard,” said Amanda Hughes of Sam Hughes, Banks and Blagg on the inside. “We knew we could win this one and those three girls were big on the boards and just went after it. It was a huge effort by all of them. It was great to see.”
Amanda Hughes also scored seven of her nine points in the final 1:48 as she hit 5-of-6 from the line and converted a layup off an Ankeny turnover with 20 seconds to go in the game.
The Hawks failed to put the game away midway through the final quarter when they missed the front end of two 1-and-1 opportunities with a two-point lead. Sam Hughes converted her two free throws between the two Ankeny misses to tie the game and the Bobcats connected on 11-of-16 from the line in the final 4 minutes to pull away. Marshalltown was 23-of-32 from the stripe in the game.
“Those late free throws were huge. They were big for us,” O’Hare said.
The game was not decided until the final 4 minutes because Marshalltown once again struggled to take care of the ball. The Bobcats finished with 27 turnovers and didn’t take their first lead since the opening minutes until they began the third quarter with six consecutive points to go up 22-18.
A bucket by Sam Hughes and then a free throw by the junior gave MHS a 25-20 lead midway through the third, but Ankeny rallied with nine straight points and eventually took a 29-26 lead into the final quarter.
“We still struggle with being patient on offense. We need to know who has it going and who needs to get the ball,” O’Hare said. “We scored inside at will and should have attacked the paint more.”
Kelsey Yarrow, the Hawkettes’ leading scorer at 13 points per game, hit her only field goal during that stretch. She finished with 11 points, going 8-of-11 from the line. Ankeny (4-15) was 20-of-27 from the charity stripe.
“We just wanted to make sure we knew where she was at. We did a good job in the first half of not letting her penetrate,” said O’Hare, whose Bobcats held Yarrow scoreless in the first half. “She got to the line in the second half, but we had to do a good job on her to win and for the most part we did.”
Ankeny has now lost seven straight games and nine of its last 10. The Hawkettes last won on Jan. 18 against Des Moines Roosevelt, a team the Bobcats also dismantled on their home floor earlier this season.
The Hawkettes only hit seven shots from the floor and Lindsey Dee and Jordan Enga had three apiece. Marshalltown, on the other hand, got buckets from seven different players and Tabby Steffensen and Molly Major grabbed six and five rebounds, respectively.
The Bobcats’ next game will be their regular-season finale on Friday against Mason City at the Roundhouse. It’s the Coaches vs. Cancer game and the crowd is encouraged to wear pink. The school also will be raffling off a cancer quilt. It also will be Senior Night.