After weeks of begging, pleading, yelling, worrying, screaming, hair-pulling and sleep-loss, Iola boys basketball coach Luke Bycroft is finally seeing the team he envisioned when the Mustangs started the 2017-18 season.
For the past two games, Iola has shown itself to be a hard-nosed, scrappy, smart team and Wednesday night was no different with Iola earning a 71-65 win over Wellsville at home.
“I’ve told them all year that if we play with mental and physical toughness we can beat anyone,” Bycroft said. “And I truly believe that. The past two games, even though we split, were the toughest we’ve played all year and you can add this game to the mix.”
Iola was embarrassed early in January when it first played Wellsville. Not only did the Mustangs get beat by 15, they got outrebounded by a team that doesn’t have a player taller than 6’2”.
Wednesday night, the Mustangs did not let that happen.
“We had 39 boards tonight and our goal is always more than 35. That’s a big improvement,” Bycroft said. “And not only did we get them but they were tough. A lot of fouls were being called on the perimeter, which was fine, but no fouls were being called on rebounds so it was a push-and-shove fight. We had to want it more than they did and we sure did that tonight.”
Iola held a slim lead throughout the game but a 7-0 Wellsville run with 2:52 to play in the game tied the game up at 62.
With under two minutes to play, Wellsville took its first lead since early in the game.
For the last 90 seconds, it was all Iola. The Mustangs had a 7-0 run pushing their lead to six points by the buzzer.
Seniors Ethan Holloway and Evan Sigg, as always, came with their lunch pails ready to work. Each picked up a double-double with Sigg scoring 14 and grabbing 11 rebounds and Holloway leading the Mustangs with 23 points and 10 boards.
“Holloway found great shots all night,” Bycroft said. “He found the shots and he finished them. He was dominant. It’s fun when we play that hard and that tough.”
Helping out down low was junior Kane Rogers who had his best night of the season scoring 15 points while fighting off the very physical Eagles.
“He was strong and determined on both ends of the floor,” Bycroft said. “Scoring, rebounding, cleaning up a mess, helping handle a ball, all very strong. We got everything that we needed from him. Especially since we were 0-6 from three. But our interior play really came up big. They were great and they carried us.”
With the win, the Mustangs are 10-9 and 6-5 in Pioneer League play.
INCLEMENT weather has postponed tonight’s game against Santa Fe Trail to Friday for their final game of the regular season before starting sub-state play next week.
JV and Freshmen Results
The Mustang junior varsity won 61-48. Junior Cal Leonard had 22 points and junior Hunter Preston scored 16. The Iola freshmen won 46-18. Nathan Louk had 12 points and Dillon Bycroft scored 11.
Iola (18-18-15-20—71) (2pt/3pt-FT-F-TP) Holloway 10/0-3-3-23, Rogers 5/0-5-3-15, Sigg 6/0-2-1-14, Bycroft 2/0-3-2-7, Andres 2/0-0-1-4, Preston 1/0-2-1-4, Barnhart 1/0-0-4-2, Leonard 0/0-1-0-1, Regehr 0/0-1-0-1, Ashmore 0/0-0-1-0, Bruner 0/0-0-1-0, Vink 0/0-0-3-0. TOTALS: 27/0-17-20-71.
Wellsville (15-19-12-19—65) (2pt/3pt-FT-F-TP) Dwyer 4/2-10-2-24, Vance 5/2-3-3-19, Donovan 2/1-0-4-7, Kearney 3/0-0-3-6, Aamold 0/1-0-2-3, O’Neil 0/1-0-2-3, Ebeck 1/0-0-4-2, Richards 0/0-1-3-1, Showalter 0/0-0-2-0. TOTALS: 15/7-14-25-65.