Nevada loses overtime war at North Polk

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Nevada freshman Cole Gidel dribbles between North Polk’s Reed Smith (left) and Blake Brauer during the first half of the Cubs’ Heart of Iowa Conference game with the Comets Friday in Alleman. Gidel scored 16 points to help the Cubs rally from a 16-point deficit to force overtime, but North Polk prevailed, 62-56. Photo by Joe Randleman
Nevada’s A.J. Strottman goes up for a shot over CMB’s Zach Samson (13) and Bryce Kemp (rear) during the Cubs’ Heart of Iowa Conference loss to the Raiders Dec. 10 in Nevada. Photo by Joe Randleman

ALLEMAN – The end result may not be what the Nevada boys’ basketball team wanted when it took on North Polk Friday, but the Cubs can take a lot of positives away from their 62-56 overtime loss at Alleman.

Nevada entered the game coming off a 52-36 home loss to Collins-Maxwell-Baxter. It looked as if the young Cub team was headed toward another lopsided loss Friday as North Polk held a 16-point lead early in the third quarter.

But Nevada showed tremendous fight, from the middle of the third quarter on, to nearly pull off an improbable comeback.

The Cubs trailed 44-29 with three minutes left in the third quarter when center Alex Merfeld grabbed an offensive rebound, put it back in the basket and drew a foul. Merfeld converted the free throw to begin a 19-3 Cub run.

Merfeld added another three-point conversion two minutes later and Riley Huhn canned two free throws in the final minute of the third to cut North Polk’s lead to 44-37.

T.J. Fey began the fourth quarter with a basket, Cole Gidel added a 3-pointer and suddenly Nevada was within 44-42. The Cubs cooled down over the next five minutes, but they continued to play great defense to stay right with North Polk.

With 2:22 to go in the fourth quarter, Gidel hit two free throws to tie the game and 20 seconds later, Patrick Stephenson converted 1 of 2 foul shots to give Nevada a 48-47 advantage. It was the Cubs’ first lead since they were ahead 5-4 early in the first quarter.

North Polk came right back to regain the lead on a clutch 3-pointer from Austin Hillebo with just 16 seconds remaining. But Nevada wasn’t done, as Merfeld continued his hot play by rebounding a missed shot and putting it back with only six ticks left on the clock.

The Comets were unable to counter in the final seconds and the game went into overtime deadlocked at 50-50.

In the extra session, North Polk forward Russell Greene took over, scoring seven consecutive points to give the Comets a 57-54 lead. Hillebo then added a pair of free throws with 45 seconds left and Nevada could get no closer than three points in the final seconds, dropping to 1-3 both overall and in the Heart of Iowa Conference.

“It was a very well-played game,” Nevada head coach Joel Fey said. “Honestly, it was probably the best we’ve played all year. We got down early, but fought back and did a couple things really well that the coaches have been asking them to do and we got easy baskets out of it.”

The big thing Fey wanted was more involvement out of Merfeld. The Cub center had his best game of the season, going 7 of 9 from both the field and the line to net a game-high 21 points.

“Merfy needs to get more touches in the post,” Fey said. “We adjusted a few things to get that. We did not so much use a wing entry to the big guy, but from the top of the key where he can come from a different angle and get open.”

T.J. Fey and Huhn provided a lot of energy for Nevada.

T.J. had a great night defensively and he also had a team-high nine rebounds along with one steal and one block. Huhn scored seven points and he also dished out six assists and came away with three steals.

“In the first half, Riley really attacked the basket and did a great job,” Fey said. “Defensively, I think T.J. had the best game I’ve ever seen him play. He didn’t score a lot of points, but boy he got in passing lanes and got some rebounds and tipped balls.”

Stephenson also gave Nevada a big spark. He finished with nine points, two assists and six steals.

Gidel tacked on 16 points – making three of Nevada’s four 3-pointers.

Greene had 20 points and 16 rebounds to help North Polk improve to 2-3 overall and 2-2 in the HOIC. Blake Brauer added 14 points and five rebounds; Sandberg had 12 points, seven rebounds, three assists and one block; Hillebo scored eight points and Dillon McBee registered four points and four assists for the Comets.

North Polk 62, Nevada 56 (OT)

N 8 11 18 13 6 – 56

NP 15 17 12 6 12 – 62

Nevada (56) – Cole Gidel 4-12 5-11 16, Patrick Stephenson 2-7 4-10 9, Riley Huhn 2-12 3-3 7, T.J. Fey 1-3 1-2 3, Duncan Westphal 0-1 0-0 0, Zach Hansen 0-0 0-0 0, Alex Merfeld 7-9 7-9 21, Jake Barker 0-0 0-0 0, A.J. Strottman 0-2 0-0 0. Totals: 16-46 20-35 56. 3-point field goals (4): Gidel 3, Stephenson. Rebounds (24): Fey 9. Assists (14): Huhn 6. Steals (14): Stephenson 6. Blocks (3): Fey, Merfeld, Strottman.

North Polk (62) – Russell Greene 7-11 6-11 20, Austin Hillebo 2-5 2-2 8, Ryley Sandberg 3-11 5-8 12, Blake Brauer 4-5 6-7 14, Dillon McBee 2-4 0-0 4, Brett Haun 1-6 0-1 2, Reed Smith 1-2 0-0 2, Hunter Dark 0-2 0-0 0, Chris Flynn 0-0 0-0 0. Totals: 20-46 19-29 62. 3-point field goals (3): Hillebo 2, Sandberg. Rebounds (41): Greene 16. Assists (11): McBee 4. Steals (7): Smith 2. Blocks (2): Sandberg, Dark.

NEVADA – Nevada couldn’t shake a rough stretch on offense in a 52-36 home loss to Collins-Maxwell-Baxter Dec. 10 at the Nevada High School Field House.

After two 3-pointers from Cole Gidel helped Nevada get out to an 8-2 lead early in the first quarter the Cubs were held to just 11 points over the next 18 minutes. CMB outscored Nevada by 24 points during that stretch to take a commanding 37-19 lead and the Cubs never recovered, falling to 1-2 in the Heart of Iowa Conference.

“They’re very athletic and we put ourselves in some bad positions,” Nevada head coach Joel Fey said. “I think we needed to play a little slower on defense. The offense can be fast, but the defense needed to be slower.”

CMB shot just under 50 percent from the field (15 of 32) and the Raiders made 21 of 28 free throws. CMB also held a huge 34-18 rebounding advantage.

Nevada had big issues putting the ball in the hole. The Cubs only made nine field goals and shot 25 percent from the floor.

“Offense is going to be a big challenge,” We need to find ways to score. We’ve proven we can shoot (3-pointers) – we need to finish better around the basket.”

Six of Nevada’s field goals were from 3-point range. Gidel hit over half of them, finishing with a team-high 13 points.

Riley Huhn added seven points, seven rebounds and four steals. Alex Merfeld chipped in six points and Zach Hansen added five for the Cubs.

CMB improved to 2-2 overall and 1-2 in the HOIC. Bryce Kemp had a double-double with 17 points and 11 rebounds, Zach Samson recorded 10 points, seven rebounds and two assists, Tommy Galloway finished with 11 points and two assists and Seth Balke tacked on eight points, six rebounds and two steals for the Raiders.

CMB 52, Nevada 36

CMB 15 11 14 12 – 52

N 12 3 7 14 – 36

CMB (52) – Jake Stratton 0-0 0-0 0, Austin Moorman 2-6 0-0 4, Joey Nissen 0-1 0-0 0, Tommy Galloway 2-8 6-11 11, Zach Samson 5-7 0-0 10, Colon Thomson 0-0 0-0 0, Seth Balke 2-2 4-5 8, Bryce Kemp 4-6 9-10 17, Mark Deutsch 0-0 0-0 0, Brady Stover 0-1 0-0 0, Patrick Girard 0-1 2-2 2. Totals: 15-32 21-28 52. 3-point field goals (1): Galloway. Rebounds (34): Kemp 11. Assists (8): Galloway 2, Samson 2, Kemp 2. Steals (7): Balke 2, Kemp 2. Blocks (1): Moorman.

Nevada (36) – Cole Gidel 4-10 1-2 13, Patrick Stephenson 0-3 0-0 0, Riley Huhn 1-5 5-8 7, T.J. Fey 0-2 0-0 0, Duncan Westphal 1-4 0-0 3, Zach Hansen 1-4 2-2 5, Alex Merfeld 2-7 2-3 6, Jake Barker 0-0 0-0 0, Bennett Thompson 0-0 0-0 0, A.J. Strottman 0-1 2-4 2, Jake Kapustka 0-0 0-0 0. Totals: 9-36 12-19 36. 3-point field goals (6): Gidel 4, Westphal, Hansen. Rebounds (18): Huhn 7. Assists (5): Fey 2. Steals (6): Huhn 4. Blocks: None.

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