Win streak up to three for Blackhawks after edging MMCRU

Thursday, February 7, 2019
MMCRU’s Cade Pepper takes a shot from the perimeter against Hinton. Pepper led the Royals with 18 points on six 3-pointers.
(Sentinel Photo By Allen Hamil)

MARCUS — This is the time of year teams want to be playing their best basketball to ride the momentum into the postseason. Hinton appears to be finding their groove at the right time as they have now won three straight games after a 60-59 final against MMCRU on Friday, February 1. This is the lone stretch of multiple wins in a row for the Blackhawks this season.

“People that aren’t in the locker rooms don’t understand how hard it is to win a varsity basketball game in northwest Iowa and to do it consistently is tough,” Hinton Head Coach John Spies said. “There’s a lot of good teams around here and anytime we can get momentum, we’ll take it.”

Tate Kounkel, who left the game earlier in the fourth quarter after landing on his head as his legs were knocked out from underneath of him going for a rebound, scored the game-winning point with 6.7 seconds left with a make at the free-throw line. Kounkel ended with a double-double as he scored 12 points and pulled down 10 rebounds which led the team in both categories.

Hinton led early as Justin Kirwan’s desperation heave at the and of the first quarter found the bottom of the net as he scored five points and dished out a team-high six assists.

MMCRU dominated the second quarter behind an onslaught of 3-pointers from Cade Pepper. He finished the game with 18 points as all of his points came on a 6-of-10 night from beyond the arc with five of those makes coming in the second quarter.

The Royals held Hinton scoreless through the first four minutes of the quarter while tallying 15 points of their own.

“What really helped us there is we were really feeding our bigs,” MMCRU Head Coach Cam Kuchel said. “That’s one thing we’ve really stressed all year long, but we really haven’t started to do until the last stretch of the season here. We’re getting it in to Jordan, in to Andrew Prescott and Andy Maass and they’re dishing it back out for open threes instead of trying to fire contested threes or they’re making a bucket and getting to the foul line. That’s really what fueled us, we used all five of our players instead of just two or three.”

Prescott ended the game with 14 points while Robert Russell had 10 and Jordan Marks ended with eight.

Spies credits Danny Riley with giving the Blackhawks a chance for a second half rally as he scored eight of the team’s 10 points in the second quarter which included makes on both 3-point attempts.

Hinton made some adjustments at halftime and began to climb back into the game with a Tate Linton steal and layup followed by a Kounkel putback at the buzzer at the end of the third which tied the game entering the fourth quarter.

The game remained close the rest of the way with both sides having opportunities to win. MMCRU’s Joel Johnson ended with nine points as he kept his season-long stretch of making a 3-pointer alive with the go-ahead trey with just under a minute to go, but his desperation heave at the buzzer missed its target as Hinton held on for the win.

It was a bitter feeling of déjà vu for the Royals which went back just two weeks to the team’s game against Kingsley-Pierson. In both games against black and gold teams, the Royals watched as their opponent overcame a double-digit deficit in the second half to win by identical 60-59 scores.

“It gets tougher and tougher every night,” Kuchel said. “These boys need to be rewarded for how hard they work. Our boys worked so hard all night, just didn’t find a way to put it in at the end. Next time it might fall. That’s just basketball. Our record does not give our boys justice for how hard they’ve worked all year long.”

MMCRU (3-15) will travel to play South O’Brien on Monday, February 4.