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THE PERFECT STORM

Everything works against youthful Hawks in season opener

South Hamilton’s Aspen Wibholm (31) battles Collins-Maxwell’s Reagan Franzen for a loose ball during the first half Tuesday night in Maxwell. DFJ photo/Troy Banning

MAXWELL — When you really think about it, you almost have to chuckle at how much everything worked against the South Hamilton girls’ basketball team in its season opener Tuesday night.

It’s either that or cry.

For starters, the Hawks were without their best player, sophomore Hallee Feaker, who will miss the entire season while she recuperates from a torn ACL. Also missing was their most experienced player, senior and soon-to-be four-year starter Emma Lewis, who watched in street clothes from the bench.

Bad things tend to come in threes, right? Caleigh Hewitt, South Hamilton’s returning leading scorer, picked up two fouls in just 12 seconds of game time and was relegated to the bench for the final 7:48 of the first quarter.

And, oh by the way, the Hawks were playing five freshmen and seven underclassmen while facing the 11th-ranked (Class 1A) team in the state that loves to full-court press from the opening tip to the final horn.

South Hamilton’s Mackenzy Grady (25) crashes into Collins-Maxwell’s Alexis Houge (2) during the first half on Tuesday in Maxwell. Houge was called for a blocking foul on the play. DFJ photo/Troy Banning

So, yeah, this was Mount Everest South Hamilton was trying to climb.

Collins-Maxwell (2-0) took advantage of it all, as the Spartans raced out to a 21-2 lead after one quarter and cruised to a 59-34 victory over the Hawks. Senior forward and DMACC recruit Reagan Franzen outscored South Hamilton 17-8 in the first half and she finished with 30 points, six rebounds, four steals and two assists. The Houge sisters, junior Alexis and freshman Erica, added 14 and 10 points, respectively, in their team’s win.

“You come in with your game plan and it can go out the window like that,” South Hamilton head coach Mark Henderson said. “I thought maybe we were a little more prepared than we were, but sometimes it’s the first game of the season, the lights go on for the first time and the girls get a little nervous.”

Losing Hewitt before fans could get comfortable in their seats was a death knell. The Hawks were lost on offense while she sat, and Franzen did whatever she wanted inside the paint without Hewitt there to defend.

“That was huge, not only for what she brings us offensively, but she has some size to match up against Reagan down there,” Henderson said. “Not having her at either end was really tough.”

Hawks’ forward Caleigh Hewitt knocks down a short jumper during the second half against Collins-Maxwell on Tuesday in Maxwell. DFJ photo/Troy Banning

Hewitt still managed to produce nine points and 11 rebounds, both team highs. Her first bucket — a turnaround jumper in the lane — was also South Hamilton’s first field goal and it came at the 6:19 mark of the second quarter.

The Hawks struggled mightily against the press in the first half. They turned the ball over 19 times in the opening 16 minutes and made just two shots from the floor in falling behind by 24 points.

“We tried to simulate (the press) in practice, but it’s hard because not only do they have some size that we couldn’t match, but they’re very aggressive too,” Henderson said. “We had a couple of good open looks early on and if one or two of those drop, maybe we get a little confidence a little bit earlier, and maybe their defense isn’t quite so aggressive. But they didn’t drop, so it was sharks smelling blood.”

The positive was that South Hamilton didn’t surrender in the second half. In fact, the Hawks hung within one point of the Spartans, 25-24, as the slew of freshmen in the rotation — Makena Galetich, Tanna Thompson, Ashlyn Erickson, Grace Neuberger and Kailyn Northrop — looked more at ease on the floor.

Galetich and Erickson both popped off for seven points, and Galetich added 10 rebounds and four steals. Thompson had a bucket as well.

DFJ photo/Troy Banning

“Those freshmen aren’t used to losing, so they’re going to fight until the end because they don’t know any other way,” Henderson said. “Their competitiveness is rubbing off on everybody.”

Mackenzy Grady also notched seven points to go along with three steals.

South Hamilton shot just 22 percent overall (13 of 57) and only 18 percent from behind the arc (3 of 16). Conversely, Collins-Maxwell connected on better than half of its shots from inside the arc, keyed by Franzen’s efficient 11 of 15 (73 percent) night.

Things won’t get any easier for the Hawks Tuesday night when they make their home debut against fourth-ranked (2A) South Central Calhoun at 6 p.m. The Titans (1-0) won their opener by — are you ready for this? — 70 points, 92-22, over Storm Lake on Tuesday.

Collins-Maxwell 59, South Hamilton 34

DFJ photo/Troy Banning

Tuesday at Maxwell

South Hamilton (0-1) — Tanna Thompson 1 0-1 2, Kailyn Northrop 0 0-0 0, Paige Evans 0 0-0 0, Makena Galetich 2 3-5 7, Chandler George 0 0-0 0, Kate Barkema 1 0-0 2, Caleigh Hewitt 4 0-0 9, Mackenzy Grady 2 2-2 7, Aspen Wibholm 0 0-0 0, Zoey Duns 0 0-0 0, Ashlyn Erickson 3 0-1 7, Grace Neuberger 0 0-0 0. Totals: 13 5-9 34.

Collins-Maxwell (2-0) — Avery Fricks 0 0-0 0, Alexis Houge 5 3-4 14, Jane’e Jones 0 0-0 0, Kenzi Wierson 0 0-0 0, Marissa Boege 0 0-0 0, Brooke Christie 0 0-0 0, Chloe Wierson 0 3-4 3, Erica Houge 4 2-4 10, Mary Staudt 0 0-2 0, Elise Robertson 1 0-0 2, Reagan Franzen 11 7-7 30, Isabelle Hill 0 0-0 0. Totals: 21 15-21 59.

South Hamilton 2 6 11 15 — 34

Collins-Maxwell 21 11 11 16 — 59

3-point field goals — SH 3 (Hewitt, Grady, Erickson); C-M 2 (A. Houge, Franzen). Rebounds — SH 35 (Hewitt 11, Galetich 10). Steals — SH 16 (Galetich 4, Grady 3). Assists — SH 5. Turnovers — SH 29. Team fouls — SH 17, C-M 13. Fouled out — C-M: K. Wierson.

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