BAXTER — Between the crowd atmosphere and what was happening on the court in the first half, all signs pointed to the Collins-Maxwell-Baxter boys basketball team earning a big victory Tuesday night.
However, Tate Handsaker had other thoughts.
The Nevada senior put up 13 points in the third quarter and 27 overall to spark a big second half that thwarted the Raiders' hopes for their first conference win.
"We knew they were going to run and gun and us. We just didn't want to have a letdown, but they just caught us in the third quarter," CMB coach Gary Plunkett said. "I wouldn't say we ran out of gas, they just found the holes in our defense."
The Raiders (1-3, 1-2 Heart of Iowa Conference) recovered from a sloppy start and quick 5-0 deficit in the first quarter thanks to five quick points from sophomore Bryce Kemp and a go-ahead putback by sophomore Patrick Girard. Although the Cubs quickly regained the lead after that, Raider senior Jason Huntrods scored at the buzzer to put CMB down just 16-14 after one quarter.
"We had shots dropping and we had guys going after the ball hard," Plunkett said. "I think what got us in the third quarter is some of those key shots didn't drop. We just continued to throw up threes."
CMB sophomore Tommy Galloway opened the second quarter with a 3-pointer to set the tone for the next few minutes. Following a Nevada timeout, the Raiders embarked on a 10-2 run that gave them as much as a seven-point lead at one point. However, the Cubs recovered once again thanks to a bevy of CMB turnovers to grab a 32-29 lead at halftime.
With the game still up for grabs, Handsaker decided to take control for Nevada in the third quarter. Scoring the Cubs’ first nine points, the senior nearly single-handedly held off a charge from CMB that consisted of five points from Galloway and a tough putback from Kemp. After Raider sophomore Seth Balke scored to bring CMB back within a single-digit deficit, Handsaker scored the quarter’s last four points to give Nevada 12-point lead going into the fourth.
“They just gradually do that to you,” Plunkett said. “You think you’re within two or three points, then you look up and you’re down 12. It’s just their relentless defense that gets you. It had us rattled.”
Although a comeback was very much on the minds of the Raiders and their fans, the Cubs kept them at an arm’s length with an 8-0 run to open the final quarter. To top things off, Kemp fouled out of the game just a few minutes later to shorten the Raiders’ supply of players.
Girard picked up some of the slack, as he cleaned up rebound after rebound and scored four late points to keep the Raiders within shouting distance. However, the Cubs’ depth proved to be too much as seniors Eric Henry and Jordan Sanders gave Handsaker a break by effectively putting the Raiders away in the game’s closing minutes.
“I thought we had a chance clear up to three minutes left in the game,” Plunkett said. “Kemp going out was big, but Girard put in some good minutes on the boards.”
Handsaker led all scorers with 27 points, while Galloway finished with 11 and Girard had 10 for CMB. The Raiders will continue their season when they host Greene County Friday night in Baxter.
Nevada 68, CMB 53
N — 16 16 20 16 — 68
C — 14 15 11 13 — 53
N — Handsaker 27, Thompson 13, Henry 9, Black 6, Sanders 6, Anderson 3, Ralston 2, Shawgo 2
C — Galloway 11, Girard 10, Kemp 9, Samson 6, Haupert 4, Huntrods 4, Moorman 4, Balke 2, Hartgers 2, Huffaker 1