PLEASANT HILL - The defending Class 4A champions have started the season 4-4. But that record is a bit deceiving when you look at who Southeast Polk has lost to.
All four defeats came against teams currently ranked in the top six in 4A. Friday, the Rams showed the Bobcats a little bit of a team that lost five seniors from last year's title squad but also gave them a look at how much talent is still left on the roster.
It took the Rams nearly a half to get going, but Southeast Polk hit eight 3-pointers and 10 different players scored in the 62-26 win over Marshalltown on Friday night in a cross-division contest.
T-R PHOTO BY TROY HYDE
Marshalltown junior Rachel Blagg shoots the ball over Jacey Huinker during the Rams’ 62-26 win over the Bobcats in Pleasant Hill. Blagg finished with a team-high five points and seven rebounds in the loss.
T-R PHOTO BY TROY HYDE
"We looked much better in the second half," Southeast Polk coach Tracy Dailey said. "We just have to come ready to play every night. We didn't come ready to play in the first half."
The Bobcats trailed 8-4 after one quarter and were only down 15-10 midway through the second before Annie Penquite canned two 3-pointers and converted a three-point play to push the lead to double digits at halftime.
The second half was all Rams though as Marshalltown managed just two points in the third quarter and was outscored 36-11 in all.
Southeast Polk 62, Marshalltown 26
At Pleasant Hill
MHS (3-6) - Amanda Hughes 2 0-0 4, Sam Hughes 1 3-5 5, Molly Major 1 3-5 5, Ellyn Boland 0 0-0 0, Rachel Blagg 2 1-2 5, Karli McClure 0 1-4 1, Kyra Hungerford 1 0-0 3, Emily Rebik 1 0-0 2, Kali Banks 0 1-2 1. TOTALS 8 9-18 26.
SOUTHEAST POLK (5-4) - Ashton Donels 3 1-1 7, Jacey Huinker 2 3-5 7, Jessica Cole 1 0-1 2, Annie Penquite 5 1-1 14, Abby Penquite 5 2-2 16, Shelby Uhl 0 0-0 0, Sierra Mitchell 2 0-0 5, Casey Stuart 0 2-2 2, Anna Zelenovich 1 0-0 2, Kali Savage 0 1-2 1, Madie Edwards 0 0-0 0, Allee Ira 3 0-0 6. TOTALS 22 10-14 62.
3-Point Goals - MHS 1 (Hungerford), SEP 8 (Ab.Penquite 4, An.Penquite 3, Mitchell 1).
"They are going to penetrate, suck the defense in and kick," MHS coach Stacy O'Hare said. "We didn't sink in too much in the first half and got out on the shooters. We knew the first three minutes of the second half were going to be key, and it just wasn't a good three minutes.
"We sunk down too low in the zone and they hit some 3s. We had to go to the man and we are not going to stay with them in a man. They are too quick and they cut with a purpose."
No Bobcat scored more than five points. Rachel Blagg led the way with five points and seven rebounds, while Samantha Hughes and Molly Major also scored five points. MHS (3-6) also was just 9-of-18 from the line and turned it over 22 times in the loss.
"We just struggled offensively," O'Hare said. "We had looks. We were short on everything and inside we just don't finish strong. We think we have to get rid of it in a hurry or we anticipate the contact too much."
Seven of the Rams' eight 3-pointers were hit by Annie and Abby Penquite. Abby buried four from long range and finished with a game-high 16 points, while Annie canned three and had 14.
"We take a lot of 3-point shots, but 31 percent is not a good percentage," said Dailey. "We also missed way too many layups. We shouldn't be turning it over 18 times against the zone. But overall, it's not a bad night when you hold the opponent to 26 points."
The Rams are now 5-4 on the season. The four losses have come against No. 1 Iowa City High, No. 2 West Des Moines Valley, No. 5 Des Moines East and No. 6 Waukee.
"It's rough, especially with a new team," Dailey said. "You figure out what you're made of though. We can't take nights off. You have to play the best to be the best."
Ashton Donels came into the game averaging a team-high 16.8 points per game for the Rams but was held to just seven Friday. Tabby Steffensen continues to sit out for Marshalltown. O'Hare said the shoulder injury will be re-evaluated on Jan. 7. She does not know when her sophomore guard will return to the lineup. It was the third time the Bobcats scored less than 30 points in a game this season. The fewest points scored this year was the 25 MHS put in during a loss to Fort Dodge back on Dec. 13. The Bobcats also scored just 29 against Ankeny Centennial earlier this year. Marshalltown will next host Urbandale on Tuesday at the Roundhouse and will travel to No. 5 Des Moines East on Friday. The Bobcats beat the J-Hawks last year for one of their four victories.