EV rallies but Warhawks shut down Bears late

Kaden Hall and the English Valleys Bears almost completed a comeback at North Mahaska on January 11, but a late charge by NM put them away. Hall finished the game with 19 points, 13 rebounds, three blocks and one steal.

The EV boys’ basketball team was hoping to end their losing streak, and almost did, but couldn’t finish it out in a 60-43 loss at North Mahaska on January 11. While the score would indicate a blowout, it was anything but, with the Warhawks pulling away late.

The Warhawks started the game off with an unconventional technical foul on EV, due to a scorebook error by not entering the starting roster in time. NM sunk the free throw and averted the tip-off by starting off with possession of the ball. The Warhawks put up some quick points and EV answered with a short tun, getting some dribble penetration working and their defense stiffening up. At the end of the first quarter, the Bears trailed 23-12.

“We feel that we can always score in big spurts and our defense fuels our offense,” EV coach Caleb Lewis said. “We just need to start a way to start quicker and not spot 10 or 15 points.”

EV managed to edge out the Warhawks in the second quarter, and the tide started to turn in favor of the visitors with their quick defense. Missed shots by the Warhawks gave the Bears opportunities to score before the defense set up, and even then, quick ball movement would give one of their players an open look. North Mahaska took back some of that momentum on the final possession of the half, drawing up an out of bounds play to get a shooter open and hit, all within the final two seconds. That basket gave the Warhawks a 33-23 lead going into the half.

“We knew they had some good players who play very hard and play good zone. We worked ball movement and figured out where our guys needed to go,” Lewis said. “We changed some things up situationally but the guys we’re sticking in are adjusting well to the different offensive and defensive schemes we’re playing.”

The Bears continued to claw their way back, little by little, and with that came a little more momentum on every made bucket. A couple three-pointers made things interesting and NM didn’t respond well to the pressure, turning the ball over more than they had been with their offense in disarray. EV made the most of their possessions on the court and their defense, the calling card of the team, played a big role as well. EV went into the final quarter trailing 41-34, having won the last two quarters, momentum was on their side.

The Warhawks, on the edge of breaking down late in the third, turned it back on in the fourth with a run of their own. As good as the Bears’ offense looked in the third quarter, they started to play more stagnant and some of the shots that went down earlier weren’t falling. The run was just enough to keep EV at bay and eventually resulted in a 60-43 defeat for the Bears.

“I think we took the momentum and we just needed a couple buckets that we didn’t get,” Lewis said. “The biggest thing was we knew this team was going to be one of the hardest playing teams we’d seen on film and we had to not only play hard but also take it up another notch to stay with them. The energy and the effort on the defensive end is something we have to bring every night, and I felt like that was what helped us.”

Kaden Hall led the team with 19 points, converting on two of three triples, grabbed 13 boards, blocked three shots and recorded one steal. Brayden Mikesell and Cole Stephenson had nine points apiece and went 4-11 from deep. Mikesell also had seven rebounds, three assists and two steals. Hayden Irmen had a big game defensively with six steals, three blocks, three rebounds, three points and two assists and Beau Flander pulled down six rebounds and chipped in with three points.

EV looked to get some redemption by playing at Iowa Valley on January 15, a team they were on the cusp of beating to start the season but wound up losing.