It’s back-to-back HOIC titles for No. 5 Hawk boys

South Hamilton senior point guard Marco Balderas (2) drives towards the bucket and puts up a shot between PCM’s Derek Brown (left) and Nicholas Dredge (25) during Friday’s Heart of Iowa Conference game in Jewell. The fifth-ranked (Class 2A) Hawks knocked off the Mustangs, 56-44, to clinch a second straight HOIC championship. DFJ photo/Tracy Runneberg

JEWELL — The moniker of Heart of Iowa Conference champions isn’t going anywhere.

South Hamilton’s pursuit of winning back-to-back league titles for the first time since the 1995-96 and 1996-97 seasons reached the finish line on Coach Jim Marsh Court Friday night, as the fifth-ranked (Class 2A) and still unbeaten Hawks clinched outright ownership with a 56-44 victory over Prairie City-Monroe.

It was the 23rd consecutive regular season victory for South Hamilton and it was particularly fitting to seize the crown against arguably its toughest competition for the top rung.

“Winning the conference title was one of our goals going into the season and to win it on our home court is always special,” South Hamilton head coach Nathan Hill said. “PCM is one of the teams I knew would push us this season … so to do it against them is a little extra special.”

South Hamilton (17-0, 12-0 HOIC) grabbed the game by the horns in the first quarter and never relinquished it. The Hawks stormed out to a 16-8 lead after eight minutes and never allowed PCM (13-5, 9-3 HOIC) to seriously threaten.

South Hamilton’s Cole Berg (5) scores over PCM’s Jackson Thomas on a drive to the bucket Friday night in Jewell. DFJ photo/Tracy Runneberg

The lead was eight at the half and 15 after three quarters. PCM managed just four points in the third period.

“I was proud of our defensive effort and discipline,” Hill said. “I thought we did a good job of making them earn what they got on the offensive end most of the night.”

Cole Berg scored six of his 14 points in the first quarter and the junior guard also yanked down six rebounds. Conner Hill joined him with 14 points and Marco Balderas gave the Hawks a third double-digit scorer with 11 points. Balderas also registered five rebounds and three assists.

Logan Peters turned in an all-around solid effort as well with eight points, three steals and three assists.

PCM received nine points from three players — Jackson Thomas, Andrew Van Ryswyk and Derek Brown.

DFJ photo/Tracy Runneberg

South Hamilton still has two HOIC games remaining and Nathan Hill says the goal of perfection hasn’t changed.

“We don’t want to have any kind of letdown as we have to continue to prepare for the postseason,” he said.

Note: South Hamilton won back-to-back HOIC Small School Division titles in 2007 and 2008.

South Hamilton 56, PCM 44

Friday at Jewell

PCM (13-5, 9-3 HOIC) — Elijah Sperfslage 4 0-0 8, Jason Stafford 0 0-0 0, Reed Worth 0 1-3 1, Dayton Boell 3 2-5 8, Nick Dredge 0 0-0 0, Jackson Thomas 4 0-0 9, Noah Lanphier 0 0-0 0, Andrew Van Ryswyk 3 2-4 9, Derek Brown 3 2-4 9, Isaac Telfer 0 0-0 0. Totals: 17 7-16 44.

South Hamilton (17-0, 12-0 HOIC) — Marco Balderas 3 5-5 11, Cole Berg 3-4 8-11 14, Logan Peters 3 2-2 8, Quinton Grove 0 0-2 0, Logan Klemp 1 1-2 3, Conner Hill 5 2-2 14, Cade Balvanz 3 0-0 6, Garrett Grady 0 0-0 0. Totals: 18 18-24 56.

PCM 8 16 4 16 — 44

S. Hamilton 16 16 11 13 — 56

3-point field goals — PCM 3 (Thomas, Van Ryswyk, Brown); SH 2 (Hill 2). Rebounds — SH 27 (Berg 6, Balderas 5). Steals — SH 6 (Peters 3, Hill 3). Assists — SH 8 (Balderas 4, Peters 3). Team fouls — PCM 20, SH 16. Fouled out — none.