No. 3 Hawks rain in five 3s early, bury Cardinals to reach substate

South Hamilton senior guard Cole Berg (5) dives for a loose ball near mid-court during Tuesday’s 71-54 rout of Garner-Hayfield/Ventura in the Class 2A District 3 final in Webster City. Berg hit the first of five first-quarter 3-pointers for the Hawks, who led 23-7 early and never looked back. DFJ photo/Troy Banning

WEBSTER CITY — A 6-foot-7 UNI recruit with the ability to score from any position could have posed a serious problem for South Hamilton, but an early kiss off the glass and its own big man doing non-big man like things erased the threat.

And just like that, the third-ranked Hawks are once again one win away from the state tournament.

South Hamilton blitzed Garner-Hayfield/Ventura early from behind the 3-point arc and neutralized all-state forward James Betz with a variety of defenders and double teams in a 71-54 runaway that was actually a lot more lopsided for the majority of the Class 2A District 3 final Tuesday evening inside the Webster City High School gymnasium.

The first basket of the game — a 3 from the corner by Cole Berg that splashed through the net — was an early sign of things to come. Logan Peters one-upped him moments later when he banked in a triple from the right wing and South Hamilton was off to the races.

“What this shows is we have a group of kids that are focused,” South Hamilton head coach Nathan Hill said after he watched his crew build a 16-point lead after one quarter, a 22-point edge at the half and a 28-point cushion at the end of three quarters. “Confidence is everything and when you have guys that believe and are dialed in, it shows.”

South Hamilton junior center Cade Balvanz (30) smiles as he’s greeted by coaches and teammates on the bench late in the fourth quarter on Tuesday. He scored 13 points and grabbed seven rebounds in the third-ranked Hawks’ 71-54 win over GHV. DFJ photo/Troy Banning

The final sign that it was simply South Hamilton’s night came midway through the third quarter when center Cade Balvanz caught a pass at the top of the key and, in rhythm, buried his first 3-pointer of the season. Balvanz was a perfect 5 for 5 from the floor in the contest.

“I saw them stack up in the middle and I was open so I thought I’m going to shoot it,” Balvanz said. “It felt good.”

South Hamilton (20-1) shot 59 percent overall (27 of 46) and a blazing 67 percent from behind the arc (8 of 12).

In reality, the game was over after eight minutes. Expecting to face a 3-2 zone from the Cardinals, the Hawks were more than prepared. They drained 9 of 11 shots, including 5 of 7 from deep, in the first quarter. Conner Hill clanged in two 3s in a span of 44 seconds, and Doran Lutjen finished off the clinic with his own trey from the wing to put the finishing touches on a 13-2 run with 16 seconds remaining in the period.

“We figured they’d come out and play a zone and we knew we had to attack it,” Conner Hill, who joined Peters with 15 points to lead the team, said. “We were able to shoot with confidence.”

South Hamilton’s Doran Lutjen gets raked across the face on a drive to the basket during the fourth quarter against GHV on Tuesday. DFJ photo/Troy Banning

GHV (16-7) finally switched to a man-to-man defense midway through the second quarter, but by then the damage had been done. Besides, South Hamilton exploited that as well with Hill driving and dishing and Balvanz knocking down one mid-range jumper after another.

Quinton Grove became the fifth South Hamilton player to rain in a 3 to push the lead to 33-13 with 4:30 remaining in the first half.

“We shot the ball really well in that first half and that helped us,” Balvanz said of the 16 minutes in which South Hamilton connected on 75 percent of its attempts.

GHV brought it back to respectability in the fourth quarter with 5 triples and 26 points, but never got closer than the final 17-point margin.

Betz was hounded by combinations of Berg, Peters and plenty of help throughout the contest. He scored a game-high 16 points, but made just 5 of 16 shots.

South Hamilton’s Logan Peters (14) scores on an up and under move in the second half against GHV on Tuesday in Webster City. DFJ photo/Troy Banning

“It’s a mindset,” Conner Hill said of the team defense. “We knew our defense would be fine.”

Balvanz finished with 13 points and seven rebounds, and Berg gave South Hamilton a fourth double-digit scorer with 12 points. Lutjen played extended minutes off the bench and was a key piece at both ends of the floor. He poured in nine points and distributed four assists.

“I’ve seen his confidence grow over the last couple of weeks and part of that is when you know you’re going to get more minutes, all of a sudden you just go out and play,” Nathan Hill said of Lutjen. “He’s making good decisions, he’s playing good defense and now you see it on his shot. He wasn’t hesitant.”

Peters also collected five rebounds and dished out six assists. Conner Hill handed out five assists.

GHV actually finished with more 3-pointers than South Hamilton, 12-8. Zach Suby joined Betz in double figures with 12 points.

South Hamilton senior Conner Hill (25) rattles in a long jumper during the first half against GHV on Tuesday. He scored 15 points in the third-ranked Hawks’ 71-54 district final win. DFJ photo/Troy Banning

In the substate final for the fourth consecutive season, South Hamilton will travel to Mason City on Saturday to face surprise entrant New Hampton (12-11) for a spot in the state tournament field.

After upsetting Aplington-Parkersburg in the district semifinal round, New Hampton pulled off another shocker, this time against Crestwood, 50-36, in the district final. Crestwood handled the Chickasaws by 30 points, 72-42, on Feb. 4.

South Hamilton will attempt to qualify for its third consecutive state tournament and fourth in the last six years when the game gets underway at 7 p.m.

South Hamilton 71, GHV 54

Class 2A District 3 Final

Tuesday at Webster City

GHV (16-7) — Austin Bahensky 0 1-2 1, Justin Reding 3 0-0 9, Brody Boehnke 0 0-0 0, Landon Dalbeck 1 0-0 2, Zach Suby 4 0-0 12, Kevin Meyers 2 0-2 5, Fred Burnett 2 0-0 6, Holden Larson 0 0-0 0, Jared Graham 1 0-0 3, Lucas Rayhons 0 0-0 0, James Betz 5 5-5 16, Ty Abele 0 0-0 0. Totals: 18 6-9 54.

South Hamilton (20-1) — Brock Galetich 0 0-0 0, Carter Hewitt 0 0-0 0, Cole Berg 5 1-3 12, Sam Lewis 1 0-0 2, Doran Lutjen 2 4-4 9, Logan Peters 7 0-0 15, Quinton Grove 1 2-2 5, Freddie Lewis 0 0-0 0, Kyler Hodnefield 0 0-0 0, Conner Hill 6 0-1 15, Cade Balvanz 5 2-3 13, Cade Flaugh 0 0-0 0. Totals: 27 9-13 71.

GHV 7 8 13 26 — 54

S. Hamilton 23 14 19 15 — 71

3-point field goals — GHV 12 (Suby 4, Reding 3, Burnett 2, Meyers, Graham, Betz); SH 8 (Hill 3, Berg, Lutjen, Peters, Grove, Balvanz). Rebounds — SH 28 (Balvanz 7, Peters 5). Steals — SH 4. Assists — SH 17 (Peters 6, Hill 5, Lutjen 4). Turnovers — GHV 12, SH 10. Team fouls — GHV 15, SH 13. Fouled out — none.