DES MOINES — The Creston boys basketball pulled away from a pesky ADM team here Saturday in a 70-59 win, while also earning valuable experience playing at Wells Fargo Arena.
Jay Wolfe scored Creston’s first 10 points of the game, as the Panthers darted to an early 11-point lead at 20-9 when Alex Nielsen hit Cole Thompson for a layup of an inbound play early in the second quarter.
“Early, we got a couple of turnovers, hit a few shots,” Creston head coach Billy Hiatt said. “This big gym is hard for us to play in sometimes, as far as shooting outside. We kind of came out flat, a little sluggish — I think a little bit of a hangover from last night playing Atlantic on the road.”
But, ADM used a 13-2 run to take a brief lead at 22-21 midway through the quarter, before entering the half trailing Creston 30-26.
Creston responded with a 10-4 run to open the second half capped off by a Thompson 3-pointer from the wing, rebuilding a 10-point lead.
“We kind of went to a press on them, caused some turnovers,” Hiatt said. “We started attacking the rim. Cole Thompson started playing well, started attacking the glass, started getting to the free throw line.”
Thompson took over in the final quarter, scoring eight of his team-high 19 points in the final quarter. Six of those eight points came from the free throw line in the closing minutes.
Wolfe finished the game with 17 points, dealing with foul trouble for much of the game after scoring the first 10 points for Creston. Junior post player Alex Nielsen added 10 points, while Christian Groumoutis netted seven and Trey Benson scored six.
With Wolfe averaging 23.3 points per game through the team’s first three games, Hiatt said it was important to have other players step up Saturday when Wolfe was on the bench with foul trouble.
“We’ve talked about it at practice, talked about it even after games,” he said. “We’re going to have to play as a team, and we’re going to have to have other guys contribute besides Jay, for nights he has an off night, has foul trouble or an injury. You never know when a guy will go down, so you’ve got to have a guy step up in his place and keep the tide going.”
The Panthers improved to 4-0 for the season with the win over ADM, while the Tigers drop to 2-3.
Hiatt said it was important to get this year’s players some quality playing time at Wells Fargo Arena.
“Coming up here, the guys we started tonight, they don’t have a lot of experience up here,” he said. “They played some when we had quite a bit of success last year. But actually playing from the start, it’s a good experience for them. Hopefully we can come back up here again this year.”
CRESTON (70) — Cole Thompson 5 8-13 19, Jay Wolfe 3 9-10 17, Alex Nielsen 3 4-4 10, Christian Groumoutis 1 5-8 7, Trey Benson 3 0-0 6, Cole Crawford 1 2-2 4, McClain Haines 1 0-0 2, Sam Hartsock 1 0-1 2, Evan Nielsen 0 1-2 1. Totals — 19 29-40 70. 3-point goals — 3 (Wolfe 2, Thompson 1). Team fouls — 22. Fouled out — None.
ADM — 6 26 35 59
Creston — 14 30 46 70
Saturday’s win against ADM came on the heels of a hard-fought Hawkeye 10 Conference road win against Atlantic on Friday, 43-39.
“It was a battle, back and forth,” Hiatt said. “Atlantic played well. They have a new coach there and had a lot of energy. It’s a tough place to play there.”
The Panthers trailed 13-8 after the first quarter, 20-16 at halftime and 31-29 at the end of the third quarter.
With just :23 left in the game and Atlantic leading by one, first-year Trojan head coach Alan Jenkins was whistled for a technical foul, giving the Panthers two free throws and the ball.
Creston converted on both free throws, and pulled out the 43-39 win.
“It was close,” Hiatt said. “He got that technical, and it was big. We got two free throws and the ball out of it. Kind of benefitted our way. I was really proud of our guys. That was the first time I’ve beaten Atlantic since I’ve been here, so that was a big win for our program.”
The win moved Creston to 2-0 in Hawkeye 10 play, leaving the Panthers as one of only three conference teams unbeaten in league play. Creston joins Kuemper Catholic (3-1 overall, 3-0 in Hawkeye 10) and Harlan (3-0 overall and 2-0 in Hawkeye 10) as unbeatens in the conference.
It sets up a big week for the Panthers, as they travel to Harlan on Tuesday and Kuemper Catholic on Friday. Neither game counts in the conference standings, but the games will show the Panthers where they stack up against the top two teams in the conference.
CRESTON (43) — Jay Wolfe 5 6-8 16, Alex Nielsen 4 0-0 8, Trey Benson 3 1-4 7, Brandon Phipps 2 1-2 6, Cole Thompson 2 0-0 4, McClain Haines 1 0-0 2. Totals — 17 8-14 43. 3-point goals — 1 (Phipps 1). Team fouls — 13. Fouled out — None.
Atlantic — 13 20 31 39
Creston — 8 16 29 43
The Creston JV team improved to 2-1 for the season with a 51-36 win over Atlantic on Friday.
“Our defense played great the entire game,” Creston JV coach Michael West said. “Our defense set up our fast break and offense, and that’s what won the game. It was our most complete game thus far.”
Sam Hartsock led a balanced attack with 14 points, while Christian Groumoutis netted 13. McClain Haines and Jake Miller each scored nine points.
Creston (51) — Sam Hartsock 14, Christian Groumoutis 13, McClain Haines 9, Jake Miller 9, Cooper McDermott 3, Brandon Jones 3
The Creston freshmen posted a 60-28 road win over Atlantic on Friday.
Cody Crawford led the way with 26 points, while Seth Thompson added 10 points and Deavon Reese scored seven.
“I thought we shot the ball extremely well,” Creston freshman coach Anthony Donahoo said. “We came out strong and kept the pressure on the entire game. Cody and Seth were shooting from the arc really well, so it opened it up for our posts to work inside. Defensively we came out in a zone, but played it aggressively, which I liked.”