The Creston boys basketball team survived what head coach Billy Hiatt referred to as a “light NBA schedule” of four games in five days, winning all four games, capped off by Tuesday’s 61-40 win over Clarinda at Southwestern Community College.
Clarinda stayed with the Panthers early, trailing just 10-7 when Hiatt called a timeout with 4:17 left in the first quarter.
But, Creston came out of the timeout and went on a 13-0 run to close the quarter, highlighted by two transition slam dunks from senior Luke Neitzel.
The Panther run got extended to 22-3, giving the Panthers a 32-10 lead late in the first half before Dakota Woods and Jordan Peterman hit back-to-back 3-pointers.
With the early lead, Hiatt was able to go to his bench early.
“Our bench played really well for us,” Hiatt said about the four-game stretch. “Looking forward to a couple of days off before we go back to Atlantic. We’re pretty tired, pretty worn out, but it’s good for us. If we can just bounce back and be prepared, it’s got us in shape a little bit. Hopefully, we’ll use that to our advantage.”
Creston, ranked fifth in Class 3A in the latest Associated Press ratings, outscored the Cardinals 20-6 in the third quarter, thanks to a pair of 3-pointers by Trey Thomsen and one each from Briar Evans and Jay Wolfe.
Evans led the way for the Panthers for the second night in a row, scoring 17 points. Thomsen joined him as the only other Panther player in double figures, scoring 10.
Wolfe, Neitzel and Kainen Somers each netted six points, while Colby Taylor pitched in five in a balanced scoring effort.
Now that Creston has survived its stretch of four games in five days, it can turn its attention to looming showdown in Atlantic on Friday.
The Panthers (17-2 overall, 10-1 in Hawkeye 10 play) travel to conference-leading and state second-ranked Atlantic (18-1 overall, 11-1 in Hawkeye 10 play).
Atlantic won the Jan. 8 meeting in Creston, 47-40, in a game that did not count toward the Hawkeye 10 Conference standings (see related story on page 7A).
With a win on Friday, Atlantic would clinch its second straight outright Hawkeye 10 Conference championship.
If Creston wins, the Panthers would clinch at least a share of the Hawkeye 10 championship, and would take the outright crown with a win in the regular season finale on Feb. 12 in Harlan.
But, first Creston must beat the Trojans. And after seeing what his team has done during this four-game stretch, Hiatt feels confident his team stands a good chance of winning that game.
“Guys are playing hard,” Hiatt said. “I’m really happy to see our bench come around, in case we get into foul trouble or one of our guys just isn’t playing well, I feel pretty good about going to our bench and not losing much. I think we’ll be all right.
“It’s going to be a test. Atlantic is a good team, well-coached. They got us at our place. I think it’s going to be a game of emotions, and with emotions you need to have a bench, because guys get worn out. I feel pretty confident we can go in there and play hard. But we have to hit shots.”
The freshman team kicks off action Friday at 5:45 p.m., followed by JV action and then the varsity game.
CLARINDA (40) — Jett Kettwick 3 2-2 10, Jason McCall 2 3-4 8, Dakota Woods 3 0-0 8, Noah Bix 3 0-0 6, 1 1-2 4, Troy Aldrich 1 0-0 2, Jaydan Landess 1 0-0 2. Totals — 14 6-8 40. 3-point goals — 6 (Kettwick 2, Woods 2). Team fouls — 10. Fouled out — None.
CRESTON (61) — Briar Evans 7 2-4 17, Trey Thomsen 4 0-0 10, Kainen Somers 3 0-0 6, Luke Neitzel 3 0-2 6, Jay Wolfe 2 0-0 6, Colby Taylor 2 0-0 5, Caleb Thompson 0 3-4 3, Alex Nielsen 1 1-2 3, Cole Crawford 1 0-0 3, Brandon Phipps 1 0-0 2. Totals — 22 6-12 61. 3-point goals — 7 (Thomsen 2, Wolfe 2, Taylor 1, Evans 1, Crawford 1). Rebounds — 24 (Taylor 4, Neitzel 4, Evans 4, Thomsen 3, Bryce McIlravy 2, Nielsen 2, Wolfe 2). Assists — 10 (Somers 3, Thomsen 2). Steals — 13 (McIlravy 3, Taylor 3, Somers 3, Neitzel 2). Blocked shots — 3 (Taylor 1, Nielsen 1, Ryan Cook 1). Team fouls — 7. Fouled out — None.
Clarinda — 7 16 22 40
Creston — 23 37 53 61
The Creston junior varsity basketball team rolled to a 74-25 win over Clarinda here on Tuesday.
Creston’s JV improves to 15-2 for the season with the win.
Jay Wolfe led a balanced scoring attack with 10 points, as Brandon Phipps added eight. Maxx Walters, Sam Hartsock and Nick Noecker each scored seven points.
“Tonight was a total team effort offensively,” JV coach Kritter Hayes said. “This team has balance and the scoring shows that. There is no let up when I go to the bench and that is what we have to have in order to play at a high level. Our defense is relentless and when were in the right position on the floor, it is hard to score against us.”
Creston (74) — Jay Wolfe 10, Brandon Phipps 8, Maxx Walters 7, Sam Hartsock 7, Nick Noecker 7, Cole Thompson 6, Cole Crawford 6, Evan Nielsen 6, Alex Nielsen 6, McClain Haines 5, Christian Groumoutis 4, Trey Benson 2. Rebounds — Alex Nielsen 6 Benson 5, Groumoutis 4, Wolfe 4, Noecker 3, Evan Nielsen 3. Steals — Thompson 3, Walters 2, Hartsock 2. Assists — Phipps 2, Haines 2, Crawford 2.
The Creston freshmen dropped a 67-23 contest at Winterset on Monday, falling to 0-14 for the season.
Josh Reed socred eight points to lead the way, followed by Brandon Jones with six and Sam Eagan with four. Nick Walsh pitched in two points.
Creston travels to Atlantic on Friday.