Mr. Assist: Balderas sets record, No. 5 Hawks finish off perfect HOIC season

Marco Balderas (2) takes the ball into the lane and scores over North Polk’s Sam Carstensen (40) on Friday in Alleman. DFJ photo/Troy Banning

ALLEMAN — Marco Balderas has the uncanny ability to see the court like it’s in slow motion, all of the pieces moving around like he’s orchestrating a perfect game of chess.

It’s what makes him such a brilliant passer and, now, the South Hamilton boys’ basketball program’s all-time assists record holder.

Needing just two assists against North Polk on Friday to become the Hawks’ leader, Balderas jumped into the top spot on a shovel pass in transition to a streaking Cade Balvanz with 2:50 remaining in the first quarter of what turned out to be another South Hamilton rout, 71-57.

It was the 380th dime of his career and by the time the final horn sounded he was sitting on 385. Balderas surpassed the former record of 379, held by Sam Koehnk since 1997.

“It means a lot,” Balderas said of the record after he produced 15 points and led the team in assists, rebounds (five) and steals (three). “I just like distributing the ball and I know that’s what I need to do as a point guard. But it’s kudos to my teammates because they made the shots. It’s easy for me; I just find them and they don’t miss much.”

Conner Hill (25) attacks the rim for two of his 17 third-quarter points on Friday. DFJ photo/Troy Banning

The distribution is just one part of his game. He already ranks in the program’s top three all-time in steals and is closing in on becoming just the seventh South Hamilton player to ever score 1,000 points. He currently sits 70 away.

“Marco has been a special player … it’s been an honor to coach a kid like that,” South Hamilton head coach Nathan Hill said. “His whole career, he’s just been consistent with what he does.”

Balderas was one of three players to score in double figures for unbeaten and fifth-ranked (Class 2A) South Hamilton (20-0, 14-0 HOIC), which finished off a perfect Heart of Iowa Conference season. The Hawks are closing in on just the fourth undefeated regular season in program history as well, but Balderas says he and his teammates have bigger goals than just a successful regular season.

“It’s nice being 20-0 and it sounds good, but we’re not done yet,” he said. “We want more.”

Conner Hill led all scorers with 23 points and Logan Peters went off for 16 before he fouled out in the fourth quarter. Three nights after shooting 70 percent in a win over Greene County, South Hamilton connected at a 58 percent clip (28 of 48) against North Polk (4-16, 3-11 HOIC).

DFJ photo/Troy Banning

Hill, who had just four points at halftime, erupted in the third quarter. During the eight-minute stretch, the junior drained seven straight shots and poured in 17 of the Hawks’ 21 points to help them push out to a 20-point cushion, 57-37.

Hill attacked the basket with ferocity early in the third and when the Comets slacked off, he canned a pair of 3-pointers, the second coming from about 25 feet just before the buzzer sounded to end the period.

Cade Balvanz chipped in six points, Cole Berg finished with five and Logan Klemp added four more.

North Polk received double-figure efforts from Colten Parkins (13 points), Caleb Lomica (11) and Braden Hoksbergen (10).

The Comets scored the first two buckets of the game, but then watched South Hamilton reel off a 17-2 run over the final six minutes of the quarter.

DFJ photo/Troy Banning

South Hamilton 71, North Polk 57

Friday at Alleman

South Hamilton (20-0, 14-0 HOIC) — Marco Balderas 4 7-7 15, Aaron Hegland 0 0-0 0, Carter Hewitt 0 0-0 0, Cole Berg 2 0-0 5, Sam Lewis 0 0-0 0, Doran Lutjen 0 0-0 0, Logan Peters 7 2-3 16, Quinton Grove 1 0-0 2, Logan Klemp 2 0-0 4, Cade Flaugh 0 0-0 0, Conner Hill 9 3-4 23, Cade Balvanz 3 0-0 6, Garrett Grady 0 0-0 0. Totals: 28 12-14 71.

North Polk (4-16, 3-11 HOIC) — Cole Bouchard 1 0-0 3, Austin McArthur 1 0-0 3, Braden Hoksbergen 3 2-2 10, Colten Parkins 5 2-6 13, Cameron Market 2 3-4 8, Caleb Lomica 3 5-9 11, Quinton McArthur 2 0-0 5, Sam Carstensen 1 2-2 4. Totals: 18 14-23 57.

S. Hamilton 17 19 21 14 — 71

North Polk 6 15 16 20 — 57

3-point field goals — SH 3 (Hill 2, Berg); NP 7 (Hoksbergen 2, Bouchard, A. McArthur, Parkins, Market, Q. McArthur). Rebounds — SH 26 (Balderas 5). Steals — SH 8 (Balderas 3). Assists — SH 12 (Balderas 7). Team fouls — SH 17, NP 15. Fouled out — SH: Peters.