MESKWAKI SETTLEMENT - As the continuous clock kicked in midway through the third quarter, it seemed all the drama and excitement was long over in Saturday's contest.
That was before the littlest player on the court hit the biggest shot, drawing the loudest cheer from the Spartan faithful.
Grundy Center's James Chungu, a foreign exchange student from Tanzania who hadn't played basketball before the season, drilled a 3-pointer late in the fourth quarter putting a bow on the Spartans' 76-31 non-conference rout over Meskwaki.
"(James) has never played basketball before in his life," Grundy Center coach Rollie Ackerman said.
"For him to score his first career basket - that was a real highlight."
Ryon Appel, who was one of six Spartans to score seven or more, came through with a key assist to open the door for Chungu's first hoop by giving up his turn to re-enter the game in the fourth.
"Ryon gave up an opportunity to rotate back in just so James could stay out there," Ackerman said.
"That speaks very highly of Ryon's character."
Dylan Lyman led the Spartans (5-11, 3-8) with 17 points and Riley Wells added 14 as Grundy Center overwhelmed the Warriors from the start tallying the game's first 15 points.
The Spartans' served up a fast-break clinic, quickly passing through Meskwaki's pressure to score easy buckets in transition, while also crashing the boards. Appel's putback capped Grundy Center's opening onslaught before he drained a trey to give the Spartans a 20-4 advantage after one.
"We knew they were going to do some trapping and the guys executed perfectly against that," said Ackerman, whose squad also found some easy buckets through their defense.
"It was just a good combination of offensive execution and contesting their shooters."
Meskwaki (8-8, 6-6) upped their defensive intensity at the start of the second to pull within 22-12 on a triple from Royce Timberwolf, though they couldn't come any closer.
Riley Wells triggered the Spartans' next run with a putback that followed a trio of offensive boards as Grundy Center extended their lead to 37-15 at the half.
Bangasser had nine points, Elliot Eggleston added eight and Clapp had seven.
Timberwolf and Corey Dye led the Warriors with six points apiece.
The Spartans quickly squashed any chances of a comeback with the first eight points of the third before Jordan Clapp's trey set the continuous clock in motion with more than 3 minutes left in the frame. The visitors outscored Meskwaki 25-5 in the period before Chungu entered the game to start the fourth.
"For some reason the boys weren't into it tonight," Meskwaki coach Harvey Davenport said.
"They looked like they were all tired, maybe from last night's game. We just didn't get off to a good start."
The Warriors entered the game on a hot streak winning six of their previous seven after a 2-6 start. The Spartans, who lost their first nine games to open the season have won five of their last seven.
"We're a much better team than we were at the start of the year," Ackerman said.
"The biggest thing is the consistent effort we're giving right now."
Both squads return to action Tuesday. The Warriors entertain North Tama, while the Spartans continue their three-game road trip against Dike-New Hartford.