DEFENSE SAVES THE DAY FOR HAWKS IN WIN
No. 8 SH goes 0 for 17 shooting outside the paint, still able to hang on to topple Norsemen
JEWELL — Nathan Hill almost always stands on the sideline, oftentimes pacing back and forth as he watches the game in front of him.
But South Hamilton’s head coach took a seat midway through the fourth quarter Friday night. Legs straight out, one crossed over the other at the ankles, he stared straight ahead with his jaw locked as play unfolded at the far end of the court.
For those few moments anyway, he’d seen enough.
It was a struggle, particularly at the offensive end of the court, but eighth-ranked (Class 2A) South Hamilton did enough defensively to withstand Heart of Iowa Conference rival Roland-Story, 47-38, on Coach Jim Marsh Court.
Up by 18 points early in the third quarter, South Hamilton (11-1, 7-1 HOIC) saw its lead dip to five with 2:40 remaining. The Hawks made just enough free throws down the stretch to keep Roland-Story (5-7, 3-5 HOIC) at arm’s length.
“Sometimes you’ve just got to win ugly and (Friday) was one of those nights,” Hill said. “These types of games happen sometimes.”
The Hawks failed to make a field goal outside of the lane in the game. They finished 0 for 17 from beyond the paint, including 0 for 8 from behind the 3-point arc.
There were free-throw shooting woes too. South Hamilton missed 10 of its 25 attempts, but was fortunate enough to outscore the Norsemen 15-1 at the charity stripe.
“I was frustrated because I didn’t think we were shooting the ball confidently, not even in the paint sometimes,” Hill said. “We were going in there hoping to get fouled and we almost shot air balls a couple times on little floaters in the second half.”
South Hamilton’s last field goal of the game came with five minutes remaining on a put back by Cade Balvanz to make it 39-28. Its final eight points came at the free throw line.
“In the back of our heads I’m sure everyone was thinking we can’t buy a bucket,” Conner Hill, who led the Hawks with 17 points, five rebounds, four steals and two assists, said after the Hawks shot just 38 percent overall. “We were probably thinking a little too much rather than just playing, but we’ll bounce back.”
A suffocating defense, particularly in the first half, proved to be the difference. South Hamilton limited Roland-Story to just four field goals over the opening 16 minutes and took a 22-8 lead into the intermission.
The Norsemen deliberately slowed the tempo and kept the Hawks out of their preferred running game. But even when Roland-Story did put shots up in the first half, very few were good looks.
“I was so proud at halftime because we played an almost perfect half defensively,” Nathan Hill said. “But in the second half I was equally disappointed and frustrated.”
Roland-Story whittled away at the Hawks’ advantage by raining in all five of its 3-pointers, several of them from well behind the arc, in the second half.
“The first half, defensively, was outstanding,” Conner Hill said. “In the second half we really struggled. We lost the game plan, we didn’t communicate and our energy was down.”
The Norsemen jacked up 25 3s in all and shot just 33 percent for the game. Carter Greenfield led them with 11 points, while Sam Skaar and Dylan Ihle had eight each.
Cole Berg (12 points) and Balvanz (10 points) joined Conner Hill in double figures. They also combined for 10 rebounds.
Logan Peters added six points. Quinton Grove had a bucket and yanked down a team-high eight boards.
Nathan Hill chalked it up to just one of those nights for his shooters. He says there’s no reason to be immediately concerned going forward.
“We just didn’t look like we had any continuity offensively,” he said. “But we’ll grow from this.”
His son agreed.
“We’ll be fine,” Conner Hill said. “We’ll get shots up in practice and outside of practice and be ready to go.”
South Hamilton will head to Alleman Tuesday night to take on North Polk.
South Hamilton 47, Roland-Story 38
Friday at Jewell
Roland-Story (5-7, 3-5 HOIC) — Sam Skaar 3 0-0 8, Dylan Ihle 3 0-1 8, Kade Faga 2 0-0 4, Dylan Matheason 1 0-0 3, Jon Sansgaard 0 0-0 2, Carter Greenfield 5 1-2 11, Colby Gray 0 0-0 0, Ben Chelsvig 1 0-1 2, Zach Twedt 1 0-0 2. Totals: 16 1-4 38.
South Hamilton (11-1, 7-1 HOIC) — Aaron Hegland 0 0-0 0, Cole Berg 5 2-4 12, Sam Lewis 0 0-0 0, Doran Lutjen 0 0-0 0, Logan Peters 1 4-9 6, Quinton Grove 1 0-0 2, Conner Hill 6 5-6 17, Cade Balvanz 3 4-6 10. Totals: 16 15-25 47.
Rol-Story 4 4 13 17 — 38
S. Hamilton 10 12 13 12 — 47
3-point field goals — R-S 5 (Skaar 2, Ihle 2, Matheason). Rebounds — SH 30 (Grove 8, Berg 5, Hill 5, Balvanz 5). Steals — SH 6 (Hill 4). Assists — SH 5 (Hill 2). Turnovers — SH 11. Team fouls — R-S 19, SH 10. Fouled out — none.