Hawks push No. 6 R-S, but can’t overcome shooting woes

Grubb has game of her life with 20 points, 13 rebounds

South Hamilton senior Marla Grubb (left) battles for a loose ball during the second half on Friday. She had a career game with 20 points and 13 rebounds in the Hawks’ 48-39 loss to Roland-Story. DFJ photo/Troy Banning

JEWELL — Breaking a full-court press was tantamount to a toddler having a solid grasp on calculus at this time a year ago and Mark Henderson is just being honest when he says he doubted his South Hamilton girls’ basketball team would ever figure it out.

So excuse the Hawks’ second-year head coach if he had a smile permanently stamped on his face after a 48-39 loss to sixth-ranked (Class 3A) Roland-Story Friday night. What were once baby steps are now giant leaps in the right direction.

Trailing by just three points entering the fourth quarter thanks in large part to its ability to handle the full-court press, South Hamilton had a realistic chance of pulling off the monumental upset. But the unbeaten Norsemen forced seven fourth-quarter turnovers and made enough shots to fend off the Hawks in the Heart of Iowa Conference opener for both teams.

“I’m happy with the way we played, but I’m not satisfied,” South Hamilton senior forward Marla Grubb said after the finest performance of her career that included a career-high 20 points and 13 rebounds. “We’ve improved so much and I know we can keep going.”

Henderson agrees with his senior captain. In fact, he felt the Hawks checked all the boxes on what they were supposed to do against the Norsemen except one.

A loose ball landed in South Hamilton junior Breanne Diersen’s lap and she quickly put up a jumper during the first half against sixth-ranked Roland-Story on Friday in Jewell. The Norsemen fended off the Hawks, 48-39. DFJ photo/Troy Banning

Shooting. It was a killer.

Had some shots fallen, maybe the upset would have happened. But the reality was South Hamilton shot just 24 percent from the field (12 of 51) and missed all 10 of their 3-point attempts.

Nobody was more frustrated than junior guard Rylee Woodall, who sparkled at times with four assists, including three in the closing minutes of the second quarter that helped pull the Hawks within one point, 19-18, at the half. Woodall had several open looks from behind the arc in the fourth quarter, but the basket said no thanks each time.

“The girls executed the game plan to perfection,” Henderson said. “They did everything we asked them to do other than make some shots. Rylee Woodall in practice (on Thursday), I bet she was 15 of 20 or so on 3s. (Friday night) she had good looks, they just didn’t drop. But once we get over that hump, big things can happen for us.”

Woodall finished with five points, all at the free throw line. Sydney Friest added four points and 11 rebounds. Taylor Volkmann and Anna Moss scored four points each. Moss also collected six rebounds and dished out three assists.

DFJ photo/Troy Banning

The Clark sisters, sophomore Juliann and senior Jenna, powered Roland-Story (3-0, 1-0) with 16 and 13 points, respectively. Jenna Clark buried three 3s and her younger sister knocked down one in the first quarter to give the Norsemen a 12-2 lead.

But after turning the ball over eight times in the opening quarter, South Hamilton (0-3, 0-1) learned from its mistakes in the second. Instead of waiting for the traps to come, the Hawks moved the ball around the court quickly and often got open shots from close range in transition off its press breaker.

South Hamilton opened the second quarter on an 8-0 run and outscored the Norsemen 16-7 in the period. And the turnover total? Down to just one.

“Last year we would have rolled over (down 12-2). We wouldn’t have come back at all,” Grubb, who had eight first-half points, said. “But we know we can compete this year.”

South Hamilton remained within striking distance throughout the third, as Roland-Story never led by more than five points. A short jumper in the lane by Breanne Diersen closed the deficit to 30-29 with 20 ticks to go.

DFJ photo/Troy Banning

But then the Hawks went cold and reverted to their first-quarter turnover struggles. Juliann Clark took advantage and canned back-to-back buckets to give the Norsemen a 38-30 lead with 6 minutes to go.

Roland-Story scored 72 and 78 points in its first two outings, games it won by 42 and 29, but South Hamilton’s zone defense forced the Norsemen into a 16 of 52 (31 percent) shooting performance.

Roland-Story 48, South Hamilton 39

Friday at Jewell

Roland-Story (3-0, 1-0 HOIC) — Kaitlyn Kilstofte 0 0-0 0, Jenna Clark 5 0-0 13, Juliann Clark 6 2-3 16, Madeline Morton 1 1-1 3, Madison Friest 3 3-4 9, Emily Berggren 1 0-0 2, Susie Weaver 0 0-0 0, MaKayla Geise 0 0-0 0, Hannah Patton 0 0-0 0, Kylie Tjernagel 0 5-8 5. Totals: 16 11-15 48.

DFJ photo/Troy Banning

South Hamilton (0-3, 0-1 HOIC) — Rylee Woodall 0 5-6 5, Anna Moss 1 2-2 4, Breanne Diersen 1 0-0 2, Taylor Volkmann 2 0-0 4, Aneesa Balderas 0 0-0 0, Marla Grubb 6 8-12 20, Sydney Friest 2 0-1 4. Totals: 12 15-21 39.

Roland-Story 12 7 13 16 — 48

S. Hamilton 2 16 11 10 — 39

3-point field goals — R-S 5 (Je. Clark 3, Ju. Clark 2). Rebounds — SH 51 (Grubb 13, S. Friest 11, Moss 6). Steals — SH 4 (Diersen 2). Assists — SH 9 (Woodall 4, Moss 3). Team fouls — R-S 22, SH 16. Fouled out — M. Friest.