Before it could settle down and know what hit it, the South Tama boys' basketball team was nearly run out of its own gymnasium by rival Grinnell.
The Tigers ran up and down the court with ease Tuesday night as they scored layup after layup, shooting well over 50 percent for the first three quarters. They blew out South Tama's team for the second time this season, but in much worse fashion. The Tigers (16-3) beat South Tama (6-14) 85-50.
"We can't run with them," Hammond said. "First of all, they're a good basketball team," coach Lonnie Hammond said. "Secondly, in any basketball game you have two teams that have a game plan and it comes down to which team can impose its way on the other. Tonight, even though we prepared for it, Grinnell got us going too fast. They imposed their will at the start of the game. We didn't adjust to it early."
South Tama sophomore Ian Slagle, left, pump fakes, sending a Grinnell defender into the air before shooting a layup Tuesday night. STC lost 85-50.
Grinnell nearly put the game away during the first quarter. A 7-3 lead two minutes into the game quickly turned into a blowout as STC turned the ball over and missed shots, while Grinnell pushed the tempo and scored shots in the paint. Grinnell went on a 20-2 run after STC scored to cut the Tigers' lead to four points. The 27-5 lead after the opening quarter was the primary difference in the contest.
"Early on, we missed some easy shots," Hammond said. "Maybe it creates a different tone if we make some of those opportunities early. Then once you let a team like this get into that double-digit lead, it's a tough night.
"One thing we need to do is stopping the ball," he said. "Not under the basket, but stop it higher. We talked about that in practice and worked on it. It's simply a matter of going into a game and executing."
Grinnell's offense continued to roll in the second quarter. However, the Trojans offense came alive. Seniors Jose Fonseca and Sam Kuhter, along with sophomore Grant Koch helped the Trojans keep the Tigers' lead stay around the same range. The Tigers led 47-22 at halftime.
"When we settle down and play our game, we can be successful," Hammond said. "We can't afford to have to wait until we're down 15 to settle down. We need do it sooner and get into our rhythm."
The second half was much of the same for both teams. Grinnell's offense was too much for the Trojans, but the Trojans managed to score, too. Scoring for the Trojans in the third quarter, were Kuhter (six points), Koch, senior Brad Evans (four points), senior Clay Waterbury (four points) and a three-pointer from Fonseca.
"At halftime we talked about coming out of the locker room knowing that anything can happen," Hammond said. "We wanted to come out and achieve our primary goal, which was to play like we were winning. Even if we made mistakes, we were playing hard and going after loose balls. I think, to be truthful, we did that. Obviously, we would have liked the score to be closer."
With Grinnell leading 71-41 at the end of the third quarter, both teams gave minutes to reserve players in the final period. Evans drained a three-pointer for the Trojans early in the quarter. Junior Nate Hala hit a mid-range jumper and sophomore Trevor Yuska made a pair of free throws for the Trojans.
South Tama and Grinnell will play again in less than two weeks. They will meet in the first round of the Class 3A Substate 6 District 11 tournament. The game will begin at 7 p.m. Feb. 18 in Grinnell.
"We have two weeks to raise our level of play, because we'll play them in the first round of districts," Hammond said. "That's what it comes down to. We have two weeks to raise our game. We're capable of raising our game. We can use tonight as a measuring stick. Between tonight and that district game, what do we have to get done? "
The Trojans will first host Benton Community for Senior Night on Tuesday.