THEY’VE BEEN THERE
Hawks rely on experience, discipline to win 6th district title in 7 years
South Hamilton took a different approach with the phrase Tuesday night though.
You see, the Hawks had been there. Many times. They played like it too.
In the Class 2A district final round for the fifth consecutive season, South Hamilton relied on its experience and self-imposed expectations to put on a first-half masterclass in team basketball against Hudson inside the Iowa Falls-Alden High School gymnasium.
The Hawks steamed out to an 18-point lead after 16 minutes and never trailed in a 44-25 dissection of the Pirates in the District 14 final. The victory pushed South Hamilton (15-7) into the substate round for the fifth straight year where Pella Christian (12-10) awaits Saturday night in Marshalltown.
“I’d say that experience really helped (Tuesday night),” South Hamilton senior Quinton Grove, who went for 10 points, six rebounds and three assists in the rout, said. “They didn’t look as experienced as we did and they weren’t as physical. It always seems like the postseason is about physical play.”
It was South Hamilton’s sixth district title in the last seven seasons, and it was pretty much wrapped up with a perfect bow on top after eight minutes.
Grove buried two first-quarter 3-pointers, and Doran Lutjen and Kyler Hodnefield both canned one to put Hudson (11-13) on its heels. Grove’s final touch — a triple from the left wing just before the buzzer — gave South Hamilton a 20-10 cushion.
“The energy was crazy (in the first quarter) and the more we scored the better we were,” Lutjen said after he dropped 12 points and two steals on the Pirates. “We knew what it would take and we came with that energy.”
Discipline — that was South Hamilton’s secret ingredient in the first half. The Hawks committed just one — one! — first-half turnover and that didn’t come until just 1:19 remained prior to the break. They shot 48 percent, including 50 percent from behind the arc, and they out-rebounded Hudson 18-6 with eight of the caroms on the offensive glass.
Think about that. South Hamilton had more offensive boards than Hudson had total rebounds in the first 16 minutes. It’s no wonder the Hawks led 32-14 when the teams headed to the locker rooms after they outscored Hudson 9-2 over the final six minutes of the second quarter.
“We knew if we were patient, if we were willing to execute, we could get what we wanted offensively and then we could frustrate the heck out of them with the defense, and that’s exactly what the guys did,” South Hamilton head coach Matt Juber said. “I couldn’t be more proud.”
Lutjen and Grove combined for 18 first-half points, and Hodnefield had five more. Not surprisingly, Hudson played a zone defense and jammed the lane to protect against Cade Balvanz, who didn’t score until late in the second period.
It didn’t matter though. South Hamilton had the nets sizzling from the perimeter. Hudson finally relented and switched to man-to-man with 3:50 to go before the half.
“(Always facing zone defenses) was spooky at the beginning of the year, but now we’re used to it,” Lutjen said. “We know we’ve got to knock down shots.”
Hudson had a better defensive game-plan in the second half and limited South Hamilton to 12 points. The Hawks may have sputtered offensively, but their defensive aggressive never waned. The Pirates managed only 11 second-half points and shot 30 percent overall, including a meager 11 percent from the arc.
“Defense has always been our strong suit and we’ve got to have that game in and game out,” Grove said. “It’s been good.”
South Hamilton led by as many as 23 points in the second half and held Hudson without a fourth-quarter field goal until the 4:09 mark.
Sophomore Austin Busch continued to be a force for the Hawks, as he contributed 10 points and seven rebounds. Five of his rebounds came in the first half, three on the offensive glass.
Balvanz took just three shots, made two and notched four points to go along with five rebounds. Carter Hewitt came off the bench to provide three first-half points.
Jerin Uhrin paced Hudson with seven points. South Hamilton held the Pirates’ leading scorers Bryce Griffen and Carter Swope to a combined eight points on 4 of 13 shooting. They entered the contest averaging 19.4 points.
Despite its rather average record, Pella Christian will step onto the court inside the Roundhouse at 7 p.m. on Saturday as a decided favorite. But with the way South Hamilton has been playing — the Hawks are 7-1 in their last eight games — Juber likes its chances.
“Deep down I absolutely expected us to be here,” he said. “I think this team can play with anybody. A night like we had here in the first half shows that we’re just as dangerous as anybody.”
South Hamilton 44, Hudson 25
Class 2A District 14 Final
Tuesday at Iowa Falls
South Hamilton (15-7) — Brock Galetich 0 0-0 0, Carter Hewitt 0 3-4 3, Tycin Barkema 0 0-0 0, Sam McNally 0 0-0 0, Doran Lutjen 5 0-0 12, Austin Busch 4 2-5 10, Quinton Grove 3 2-2 10, Kyler Hodnefield 2 0-0 5, Nic Flaugh 0 0-0 0, Cade Balvanz 2 0-0 4, Cade Flaugh 0 0-0 0. Totals: 16 7-11 44.
Hudson (11-13) — Jerin Uhrin 2 3-4 7, Sam Hansen 1 0-0 3, Ben Kelly 1 1-2 3, Payton Stuart 2 0-0 4, Jacob Wiersma 0 0-0 0, Drew Stanfield 0 0-0 0, Bryce Griffen 1 0-0 2, Carter Swope 3 0-0 6. Totals: 10 4-6 25.
S. Ham. 20 12 8 4 — 44
Hudson 10 4 5 6 — 25
3-point field goals — SH 5 (Lutjen 2, Grove 2, Hodnefield); Hudson 1 (Hansen). Rebounds — SH 31 (Busch 7, Grove 6, Balvanz 5). Steals — SH 6 (Lutjen 2, Busch 2). Assists — SH 12 (Hodnefield 5, Grove 3). Turnovers — SH 6. Team fouls — SH 9, Hudson 10. Fouled out — none.