Inconsistent play stifles Central boys basketball in opening week losses

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By Willis Patenaude, Times-Register


The Central boys basketball season started last week with a trio of road games, and though the Warriors showed glimpses, are still looking to put together a complete 32 minutes while also cutting down on turnovers and a lack of rebounding that contributed to an 0-3 start. 


“We knew that these would be focus areas for us, and will continue to focus on improving those things in practice moving forward,” said head coach Brady Stramer. “We’ve got a very young and inexperienced group of kids, but they’re coachable and want to get better. We won’t run from our mistakes. We will own them.”


The Warriors faced Kee in the Nov. 28 opener and were quickly overwhelmed by the Hawks’ full court pressure, leading to early turnovers and easy, fast break layups. Coupled with a slow start by the Warriors, Central quickly found itself trailing 22-5 after the first quarter. By halftime, the deficit increased to 39-15, though the Warriors limited turnovers in the quarter and scored more points. 


In the second half, Central was undone by solid defensive play from the Hawks, who mixed up their defenses to great effect and forced turnovers. The lead expanded throughout the half, resulting in a 64-25 defeat for the Warriors. 


The Central offense shot 28.6 percent from the field, going 1-11 on three-point shots and 4-8 on free throws. Isaac Loan and Jake Hertrampf both had seven points. Loan also collected four rebounds and two assists and Hertrampf came up with four rebounds, one assist and two blocks. Owen Hammersland finished with six points, two rebounds and two blocks. 


The Warriors committed 24 turnovers, while the defense snagged seven steals and one block and forced 10 Kee turnovers. 


Then it was on to play South Winneshiek, with Central coming out “ready to go right from the jump,” Stramer said. The offense took care of the basketball and moved the ball around in the half court offense, allowing the team to get “good looks close to the basket.” The Warriors put up 13 points in the first quarter and trailed by only five heading into the second. 


However, from that point on, South Winn’s full court pressure put the brakes on Central’s offense, leading to more turnovers. In total, Central finished with 35 turnovers, which was “too big of a problem to overcome,” Stramer said. Central lost 89-30.


Central’s shooting improved from game one, climbing to 30.8 percent, with a 33.3 percentage from behind the three-point line. Loan led the Warriors in scoring with 11 points, going 4-9 shooting, and added one rebound, two assists and one steal to the stat line. Hammersland put up seven points on 3-7 shooting, with one rebound and two assists, while Hertrampf scored four points and led the team with five rebounds. Carson Ruegnitz scored one point and grabbed four rebounds. 


On Dec. 2, the Warriors played the Springville Orioles, in a game that saw Central score with consistency throughout the first half, as they put up 19 points and were down by only 12 at the half. The defense also limited transition baskets and the team did a better job overall rebounding, leading to fewer second chance points for the opposition. 


After halftime, though, Central was unable to find open looks at the basket and settled for “too many perimeter shots” early in the possession. This lack of patience on the offensive end and what Stramer referred to as “slow closeouts” on the defensive end, gave the Orioles all they needed to pull away for a 63-25 victory.


Central shot just 23.1 percent from the field, while falling below 20 percent on three-point shots and below 50 percent on free throws, while committing 21 turnovers. 


Loan was the leading scorer again for the Warriors, putting up a season-high 12 points with four rebounds and two steals. Hertrampf was next with five points, one assist, one block and one steal, and Ruegnitz put in four points with two rebounds. Hammersland scored one point, but also had five rebounds and two assists, and Vaughn Zittergruen collected six rebounds with two assists and two steals. 


“While we didn’t play as well as we would’ve liked to, and know that we have to improve in a lot of areas, I was proud of how hard our guys played. The effort is there, which is something that we must continue to have,” Stramer said. 


The Warriors looked to improve and rebound from the early season losses with two games this week, starting with a Dec. 4 home opener versus Maquoketa Valley. The Warriors will then travel to West Central on Friday, Dec. 8. 

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