Norse boys open season with three impressive wins
—by Todd Thorson
The Roland-Story boys’ basketball team returns only one starter from last year’s squad. But the five returning letter winners and the rest of the team are eager to improve on a 14-9 record from a season ago. The Norsemen should sport a very talented group, with some size down low and ample weapons from the perimeter, according to Coach Darrin Berggren. “We played very well this summer, and are excited to get the season started,” he said. “We lack experience, but I think as the year goes on we will continue to get better.”
The Norse opened the season with a busy week of games last week, playing three contests in five days. They managed to come out of the gate with an impressive 3-0 start. R-S opened on the road with victories at Iowa Falls-Alden (61-42) and Saydel (61-30) last Monday and Tuesday (Dec. 1 and 2). Their home opener was Friday night (Dec. 5), and a pesky PCM team came to town and gave the Norsemen all they could handle before the home team prevailed 69-60.
R-S 61, Iowa Falls-Alden 42
In their first game out, the Norsemen were a bit shakey, as nerves and the excitement of playing that first contest created some jitters in the early going against Iowa Falls-Alden. But once the openng minutes unfolded, the Norse managed to take a 14-9 first quarter lead, and then held a 31-25 halftime advantage. Fouls played into the R-S first half performance, as starters Jerald Fritz and Adam Shorkey picked up their third and second fouls, respectively.
After the break, the Norsemen settled down and went into their slow down offense, using patience and good looks at the basket to open up a 49-33 bulge with one quarter to play. Shorkey scored nine of his 18 points in the third quarter alone. The Norse opened the final frame on a 10-2 run to push the lead to 24 before eventually winning by 19, 61-42.
Behind Shorkey’s 18 points was John Barclay, who had 15 points, including three three pointers. Tyler Hovick posted 11 points, followed by Alex Teig and Jerald Fritz with five each, Brandon McCoy added four points and Colin Greene tallied three. Shorkey, Greene and Fritz each hauled down seven rebounds, as the Norse out-rebounded the Cadets 35-27. Hovick also dished off seven assists, while Shorkey swiped six steals. Jacob Sundholm led IF-A with 12 points.
“I was really happy with the effort and energy we brought for the full 32 minutes,” commented Coach Berggren. “Once we slowed down and let the game come to us, we really started pulling away. I was (also) really happy with how we moved the ball to take what the defense was giving us. We finished with 15 assists on our 22 field goals, led by Tyler’s (Hovick) seven.”
R-S 61, Saydel 30
Another slow start didn’t last long for the Norse against Saydel, as their aggressive, tight defense paid dividends in the end. The Norsemen held Saydel to just two points in the first six minutes of the game, only to see the score tighten up by the first quarter’s end with R-S leading 9-6. But the Norse soon turned up the heat, and forced a few turnovers in the second period, allowing for some easy baskets off those miscues. R-S went on a 14-2 run to build a 23-8 lead. Behind Adam Shorkey’s nine second quarter points, the Norse boys held a 29-15 edge at the break.
Coming out of the lockeroom, the Norse kept the pressure turned up, scoring the first 13 points of the period to take a 42-15 lead with two minutes left in the period. A very balanced attack, with four different players hitting threes in the third, enabled R-S to go into the fourth period with a 47-19 cushion. The game would end with 10 of the 13 varsity players getting into the scoring column, as the visitors prevailed by 31.
“I thought we had a great effort again defensively,” stated Berggren, “holding Saydel to just 19 points through three quarters, and 30 for the game. We again did a great job of turning solid defense into offense, and also sharing the ball with 16 more assists, led by John’s (Barclay) six.”
Shorkey led the way with 17 points on 7 of 8 from the floor, and 3 of 4 free throws. Barclay also had 10 points. Tyler Hovick and Jerald Fritz were next in line with eight and seven points, respectively. Colin Greene posted six points, followed by Logan Greiner with four. Alex Teig had three points, and Austin Jewell, Josiah Soderstrum and Brandon McCoy each had two points.
Shorkey led in rebounding with seven grabs. The Norse shot 24 of 45 from the floor for 53 percent, and held Saydel to just 27 percent on 14 of 52 shots.
“I thought we did an excellent job coming back and playing our second road game in as many nights,” concluded Berggren. “If we can continue the defensive effort and attacking what the opponent’s defense gives us, we have the potential to have a very good season.”
R-S 69, PCM 60
The Norse had their best start of the three games played thus far against PCM Friday night in Story City, leading 19-10 at the quarter break. The Norsemen had three three pointers in the period, including a 30 footer at the buzzer by John Barclay to give the home team their nine point advantage. Scoring the first six points of the second quarter, the Norse quickly opened up a 15 point lead. That lead grew to 24 with just over a minute left in the half. A couple of turnovers by the Norsemen, however, plus four free throws and a three pointer by PCM, cut the lead to 44-27 by halftime.
Despite 16 first half turnovers, the Norse were able to maintain a comfortable advantage, aided by their 8 of 13 three point shooting. Barclay was 4 of 7 from beyond the arc, while Colin Greene hit 3 of 5. Jerald Fritz also finished the first half with 11 points and 10 rebounds.
The Mustangs continued to force turnovers on the Norsemen after the break, cutting the R-S lead to nine by the end of the third quarter, 54-45. PCM edged even closer in the final frame, cutting the margin to a mere five points. But Tyler Hovick hit a big pull up jumper and then followed it up with another three pointer to keep the Mustangs at bay. The Norsemen were able to hit their free throws down the stretch, 10 in all, to fend off PCM by nine, 69-60.
Five Norsemen scored in double figures, led by Fritz and Barclay with 15 points each. Adam Shorkey posted 14, Colin Greene scored 13 and Hovick finished with 12 points. The tight R-S defense held PCM’s Logan Gilman, the conference’s leading scorer last year, to just two first half points. He would finish with 14 for the Mustangs. The Norse also dominated the glass, out-rebounding PCM 45-24. Fritz finished with 16 rebounds, with Shorkey hauling down 12. The Norse held PCM to 32 percent shooting from the floor on 23 of 72 shots. Turnovers, however, were a problem for the Norse.
“We need to do a much better job of taking care of the basketball,” Berggren stated, “as we turned the ball over 28 times, but we did a good job of hitting open shots when we had them. We shot 11 of 22 from three point range, and shot over 50 percent from the field (21 of 41).We had 17 assists on our 21 field goals, which is a great percentage.”
It was a great start to the 2014-15 season for the Norsemen boys; 3-0 overall and 2-0 in the HOIAC. “We will need to cut down our turnovers this week,” stressed Coach Berggren, “as we have two more home conference games (against Gilbert and Colfax-Mingo).”
This year’s varsity squad currently consists of 13 members, including seniors Adam Shorkey, Jerald Fritz, Zach Tryon, Josiah Soderstrum, Austin Jewell and Logan Greiner. Juniors include Alex Teig, John Barclay, Colten Arnold, Colin Greene, Tyler Hovick, Aren Halleland and Brandon McCoy.
“I think we’ll be a very tough team to beat come late January and into March,” explained Berggren. “We will have more size than most teams on our schedule, so we should be able to have an advantage inside, and we should also win the rebound margin in most games. We also have a good group of shooters outside, so that should really open things up inside for our posts.”
With many of the other conference teams returning more starters this season than the Norsemen, as well as many of the top scorers, Coach Berggren will need his players to step up defensively, each and every game out. “I think if we can play together defensively,” he said, “we will be able to compete towards the top of the conference.”