Game of chances
Hawks’ rally falls short in season opener vs. Spartans
JEWELL — Mark Henderson would be one of many coaches to admit that oftentimes there simply aren’t enough hours in the day.
South Hamilton’s second-year head coach covered as much as he could during the two weeks of preseason practices, but when it came time for the scoreboard to be turned on Tuesday night he found out there was one thing he hadn’t drilled into his players — late-game situations.
And it came back to bite the Hawks right in the rump.
A series of mistakes in the final minute overshadowed a frantic fourth quarter comeback, as South Hamilton dropped its season opener to Collins-Maxwell, 46-43, on Coach Jim Marsh Court.
Trailing 45-43 after a Taylor Volkmann free throw with 37 seconds remaining, the Hawks waited until just 6.1 ticks remained before fouling. The Spartans’ Gracie Cheville left the door open a crack by missing the first of two foul shots, but rather than opt for a potential game-tying 3-pointer, South Hamilton turned the ball over on a drive to the basket with .8 left on the clock.
Collins-Maxwell (1-1) almost gave the Hawks another chance when it threw the inbound pass the length of the court; it was headed out of bounds, which would have given the Hawks possession under their own basket for one final potential game-tying shot, but South Hamilton touched the ball and the clock ran out.
“I would chalk all of that up to it being early in the season,” Henderson said. “You can call it the basketball IQ, but the basketball IQ should come from me, so I don’t blame the girls for that. We haven’t done anything yet in practice where we put two minutes on the clock and go through situations.”
South Hamilton (0-1) didn’t lose because of those last 37 seconds, however. A rash of turnovers, spotty outside shooting and a dismal 12 of 29 performance from the charity stripe were the biggest contributors.
The Hawks connected on just one 3-pointer — a Rylee Woodall triple from the left wing late in the third quarter — and failed to convert on six free throws in the fourth quarter.
“We had a ton of chances,” Henderson said. “We had some 15 footers and drives to the bucket that we just didn’t finish. I was happy with how hard (the players) worked and how aggressive they were, but at the end of the day the shots have to go in.”
Marla Grubb led South Hamilton with 12 points. Breanne Diersen put up all 10 of her points in the first half — a 16-minute spell that gave the Spartans a 25-22 edge at the intermission — and Volkmann provided nine points, seven in the final period.
Collins-Maxwell’s Mikayla Houge led all scorers with 17 points; she had 13 in the first half. Brenda Bane added 10 points before she fouled out with 3:38 remaining.
South Hamilton entered the fourth quarter down by seven points, 38-31, but slowly inched back into contention. An offensive rebound and put back by Grubb, followed by a Volkmann three-point play cut the deficit to 43-40 with 1:53 to go.
The Hawks closed to within two points on two occasions in the final two minutes.
South Hamilton’s best offense came from inside the paint and by crashing the boards, two things that helped it take a 9-7 lead after the opening quarter. But periods where it reverted back to last year’s style of chucking up 3-pointers at a rapid clip allowed Collins-Maxwell to take control for good in the second quarter.
“We talked a lot about how we have to get the ball inside and if they’re pinching on us, that’s where we kick it out and shoot the 3s,” Henderson said. “We went through a stretch where we weren’t getting it inside, we were just kicking it around the arc and then letting it fly.”
Sydney Friest and Woodall both finished with three points in the loss. Anna Moss, Brookelyn George and Aneesa Balderas all had a bucket.
Despite an unspecified injury, Moss gutted it out and thrived at the top of the Hawks’ press and zone defense, and she gave the Spartans fits.
“Anna is very active … when she comes out we’re in trouble usually,” Henderson said. “She’s dealing with some health issues, so I didn’t think she’d be able to play as much as she did.”
South Hamilton will make its first road trip Tuesday evening for a non-conference game against South Central Calhoun.
Collins-Maxwell 46, S. Hamilton 43
Tuesday at Jewell
Collins-Maxwell (1-1) — Emma Kahler 0 0-0 0, Gracie Cheville 0 2-3 2, Brooke Christie 0 0-0 0, Josie Wierson 3 0-0 6, Mikayla Markley 1 0-0 3, Shasta Moody 0 0-4 0, Mikayla Houge 5 6-10 17, Olivia Pasquariello 0 0-0 0, Brenda Bane 3 4-6 10, Ella Kahler, 0 0-2 0, Kayla McCormick 3 2-2 8. Totals: 15 14-27 46.
South Hamilton (0-1) — Rylee Woodall 1 0-0 3, Anna Moss 1 0-0 2, Breanne Diersen 3 4-8 10, Taylor Volkmann 2 5-9 9, Brookelyn George 1 0-0 2, Aneesa Balderas 1 0-0 2, Taylor Ratzke 0 0-0 0, Marla Grubb 5 2-8 12, Sydney Friest 1 1-4 3. Totals: 15 12-29 43.
Col-Maxwell 7 18 13 8 — 46
So. Hamilton 9 13 9 12 — 43
3-point field goals — C-M 2 (Markley, Houge); SH 1 (Woodall). Team fouls — C-M 23, SH 23. Fouled out — CM: Wierson, Bane, McCormick; SH: Woodall.