Hawks start to regain shooting touch, dust off NP

South Hamilton junior center Cade Balvanz (30) scores in transition by getting past North Polk’s Colten Parkins on Tuesday in Alleman. Balvanz had 15 points and eight rebounds in the Hawks 70-53 victory. DFJ photo/Troy Banning

ALLEMAN — By its actions defensively, North Polk was well aware Tuesday night of the shooting struggles South Hamilton has faced since it returned from Christmas break.

Packed in a zone that collapsed anytime the ball reached the paint, the Comets were saying one thing: Prove it.

It took a while, but eventually the Hawks did just that.

Seventh-ranked (Class 2A) South Hamilton didn’t set the nets on fire, but some outside shots finally began to fall, enough to allow it to pull away in the second half for a 70-53 Heart of Iowa Conference victory.

“In the first half North Polk did a good job of collapsing,” South Hamilton head coach Nathan Hill said. “But once we started making some shots then it forced them to come out. But you could tell their game plan was to pack it in early.”

South Hamilton’s Quinton Grove yanks down an offensive rebound against North Polk on Tuesday. DFJ photo/Troy Banning

The Hawks (12-1, 8-1 HOIC) shot 49 percent overall (28 of 57), but connected on just 27 percent of their 3-point attempts (4 of 15). In three games this month, they’ve knocked down just 6 of 36 attempts from outside the arc (17 percent).

Conner Hill ended a streak of 15 consecutive misses from 3, dating back to last Friday’s struggle against Roland-Story, midway through the second quarter and it ignited a 12-2 run that put South Hamilton in command for good.

Nathan Hill thinks the early misses were residual memories left over from the Roland-Story game, which the Hawks won by nine despite missing all 17 of their shots outside of the lane.

“Everybody was well aware that we didn’t shoot the ball well the other night and I thought early on we were thinking through stuff too much rather than just playing,” he said. “As the game went on, we just started playing.”

South Hamilton took a 30-21 lead into halftime and then built its advantage to as big as 15 in the third before eventually setting on a 12-point cushion with eight minutes remaining.

South Hamilton’s Sam Lewis (10) is challenged at the rim on Tuesday. DFJ photo/Troy Banning

Another Conner Hill triple, this time coming off a screen on the wing, pushed the margin to 14 with seven minutes to go. North Polk (3-10, 2-7 HOIC) closed to within nine at one point and was down 10 with two minutes left on the clock before the Hawks put it away with a 7-0 spurt.

A closely officiated contest didn’t help either team with their flow, as the two teams piled up a combined 33 fouls that led to 31 free throws.

“Defensively we were trying to do the right things, but (the referees) were calling it tight and then we got apprehensive of trying to be too aggressive,” Nathan Hill said. “But I’m proud of the effort.”

Conner Hill led a trio of Hawks in double figures with 18 points to go along with seven rebounds and four assists. Cole Berg produced a double-double with 16 points and 10 boards, and Cade Balvanz was effective inside with 15 points and eight caroms.

Logan Peters added nine points and six assists.

DFJ photo/Troy Banning

Braden Hoksbergen (13 points), Cameron Markert (10) and Sam Carstensen (10) all reached double digits for the Comets, who Nathan Hill says are a better team than their record indicates.

“They’ve got some players,” he said. “You look at their record and think you should just go in and beat them, but that’s not how it works. I give them a lot of credit.”

For the second straight week, South Hamilton will now face an extended layoff. It will return to the road next Tuesday against Greene County in Jefferson.

South Hamilton 70, North Polk 53

Tuesday at Alleman

South Hamilton (12-1, 8-1 HOIC) — Aaron Hegland 0 0-0 0, Cole Berg 6 3-3 16, Sam Lewis 4 0-1 8, Doran Lutjen 0 0-0 0, Logan Peters 4 0-2 9, Quinton Grove 1 2-2 4, Conner Hill 7 2-2 18, Cade Balvanz 6 3-5 15. Totals: 28 10-15 70.

North Polk (3-10, 2-7 HOIC) — Cameron Markert 4 2-6 10, Quinton McArthur 1 0-0 2, Luke McCoy 0 0-0 0, Braden Hoksbergen 4 2-2 13, Colten Parkins 3 0-0 7, Jevin Sullivan 2 4-4 10, Sam Carstensen 5 0-2 10, Quinten Sommers 0 1-2 1. Totals: 19 9-16 53.

S. Hamilton 12 18 19 21 — 70

North Polk 9 12 16 16 — 53

3-point field goals — SH 4 (Hill 2, Berg, Peters); NP 6 (Hoksbergen 3, Sullivan 2, Parkins). Rebounds — SH 38 (Berg 10, Balvanz 8, Hill 7). Steals — SH 6 (Berg 2, Peters 2). Assists — SH 19 (Peters 6, Hill 4). Turnovers — SH 7. Team fouls — SH 18, NP 15. Fouled out — NP: Sullivan, Carstensen.