—by Todd Thorson

Slow starts to all three of their games last week proved to be costly for the Norse boys, as they fell to South Hamilton, CMB and Perry; the latter two, of which, were on the road. It was the Norsemen’s first losing streak of the season after starting the season winning five of their first seven contests. Roland-Story now stands at 5-5 overall, with another three game slate on tap for this week.

South Hamilton 73, R-S 62

It was a tale of two quarters - one bad, one good - but in the end it was just too much "Hawk power" to overcome, as the Norse fell to their much-improved rivals, 73-62, last Tuesday night (Jan. 9) in Story City. Coming into the game SH and R-S were tied for second in the HOIAC, setting up this big confrontation. A horrible second quarter by the Norsemen was almost resurrected in the fourth period, but the hole was just too deep to dig out of in the 11 point loss.

The Hawks jumped out to a 13-5 lead, but the Norse closed the gap on a 6-0 run to cut the SH lead to one at 17-16 at the quarter break. Two key steals by Ben Clark, including a lay up at the quarter buzzer, were keys to the Norsemen’s comeback.

Unfortunately, the second quarter was all SH, as they outscored R-S 23-3 to lead 40-19 at the break. Freshman Colin Hill led the Hawks with 17 first half points.

The Norse came out of the break on a 7-0 run, trimming the margin to 14. But the Hawks retaliated with a 6-0 run of their own to push the lead back to 20. The fourth quarter began with SH holding a comfortable 58-37 advantage. Soon it was 62-39 with seven minutes to play, and the Norse looked all but done.

But suddenly the home team came back from the dead, firing on all cylinders to mount a 23-5 run, capped off by a three pointer by Clark to cut the SH lead to five with a minute to go. The Hawks managed to close the deal, however, eventually winning by 11. But it was a gallant effort, nonetheless, by the home team.

Zach Hovick led the Norse with 25 points, 17 in the second half. Ben Clark also had a strong game, scoring 16 points, including 13 in the second half. And Adam Shorkey posted 13 points, with seven after the break. Tyler Hovick added five and John Barclay pitched in three. Clark also dished off eight assists. SH had four players in double figures, led by Hill’s 23. Matt Hislop had 13, followed by Trevor Ullestad with 11 and Ross Enderson had 10.

"I was very proud of our effort in the second half," said Coach Darrin Berggren. "We had numerous times we could have given up, but we kept fighting back one possession at a time. We just dug ourselves too big of a hole against a very good team. SH shot over 60 percent for the game and our defense needs to step up and do a better job of challenging and forcing the opposition into difficult shots. I am really happy with our effort and unselfishness we have demonstrated so far this season, and I think we have a lot to play for in the second half of the season."

CMB 61, R-S 60

Another slow start by the Norse last Friday in Maxwell against a good CMB team allowed the Raiders to take an early 11-8 lead at the end of the first quarter. By halftime, the Norse found themselves on the short end (again) 31-23. The Norse closed the gap to six at the end of three periods, before the visiting Norsemen finally took their first lead at 50-49 with five minutes remaining. From that point on the game went back and forth, and was soon setting itself up for an exciting finish.

With the score tied at 58-58 with 1:15 left, the Norse had the ball. At the 30 second mark, Zach Hovick made an excellent pass to Adam Shorkey cutting toward the basket, with Adam laying it in for a two-point R-S lead, 60-58. The Raiders’ Austin Moorman then hit a three pointer with 10 seconds left to put CMB back up by one at 61-60. The Norse still had a chance in the closing seconds, getting the ball inside, but the shot would not fall and CMB held on for the one point victory.

Zach Hovick led the way for the Norse, scoring 22 points, including 12 in the second half. Ben Clark also scored 12 of his 19 points in the second half. Adam Shorkey added 12 points, with eight after the break. Alex Urbanek had three points, followed by Sam Miller and Nick Ahrens, each with two.

"Again, we fought back hard against a very good opponent on the road," commented Berggren. "We did things we needed to do to get back in the game and take the lead. We had a good defensive possession at the end, and to their credit, they made the shot. We need to find a way to get out to a better start and not have to dig out of the early deficits."

Perry 60, R-S 55

For the third consecutive game the Norse boys got off to a very slow start, and it cost them once again. Trailing 10-2 four minutes into the game against Perry Saturday afternoon on the road, the Norse were struggling with the home team’s press, turning the ball over nine times in the first half alone. Perry led by seven at the quarter break, 19-12, but saw the Norse close the gap to three by halftime, 27-24.

R-S cut the lead to one on their opening possession of the second half, but could never assume the lead. Perry still led by four at 39-35 heading into the final frame. Down the stretch the Norsemen had a tough time getting stops when they needed them. Missed free throws also proved costly.

Zach Hovick again hit the 20 point mark, scoring 22. Ben Clark posted 15, followed by Adam Shorkey with 10, Ross Barclay three, Jerald Fritz and Nick Ahrens two and Sam Miller pitched in one point. Clark also had nine rebounds and five assists.

"We lost three tough games this week to three good teams," concluded Coach Berggren. "I think we learned a lot and found some areas to improve on. First half through the conference we are in third place and only a game out of second. Hopefully we can use what we learned this week to continue to improve and finish the second half of the conference season on a strong note heading into tournaments."

The Norsemen hosted Greene County last night (Tuesday), travel to Colfax-Mingo on Thursday and then return home Friday against North Polk.