So close: Cascade, Tipton edge Panthers in RVC play

Alex Nealson of Monticello (21) is about to knock the ball from the hands of Cascade’s Gannon O’Brien during the Jan. 31 game in Cascade. (Photos by Pete Temple)

Kyle Sperfslage of the Panthers (23) goes up before dishing the ball to teammate Alex Nealson (21) at Cascade.

Taylor Manternach drives the baseline for the Panthers against Tipton Feb. 3.
Pete Temple
Express Sports Editor

     Close games are often good for a team. Now, the Monticello High School boys basketball team just has to find a way to win them.

     The Panthers (7-8, 9-11) had two games in River Valley Conference play last week, losing a hard-fought battle at Cascade by two points on Jan. 31, and a Senior Night home game against Tipton by one Feb. 3.

     “That’s four in about a two-week span,” Lambert said. “It’s good experience for the post-season, other than you don’t feel good about those losses.”

     On Tuesday at Cascade, the Panthers rallied from a 12-point third quarter deficit to hold a couple of leads before falling to the Cougars 49-47.

     “You don’t ever want to be satisfied with a loss, but there are a lot of positives we can take from that,” Lambert said. “We executed. We had some deflections and steals. And they had a hard time guarding us inside. Alex (Nealson) and Andy (Tjaden) did a nice job finishing.”

     The Panthers started out strong against Cascade, taking a 16-13 lead by the end of the first quarter. After the lead went to 18-15, however, the Cougars went on a 14-4 run to take a 29-22 lead. Cascade wound up with a 30-24 advantage at halftime.

     The Cougars then opened the second half with six straight points to take their largest lead of the game, 12 points, at 36-24.

     Monticello stormed back, however. A floater at the buzzer by Alex Nealson brought the margin down to four, 39-35, with one quarter to play.

     After the Cougars led 41-37, Alex Nealson had a big stretch in which he made a layup, blocked two consecutive shots on the defensive end, then scored on a put-back, tying the game 41-41 with 5:17 to play.

     Monticello was able to push to a 47-44 lead when Kyle Sperfslage scored on a layup off a pass from Nealson. The Cougars scored the next five points, including a layup by Dilan Simon to give Cascade a 49-47 lead with 8.0 seconds to go.

     The Panthers passed the ball in, got another timeout with 5.0 to play, and were unable to make a long shot at the buzzer.

     Alex Nealson finished with 14 points, seven rebounds, four assists and three blocks. Avery Martensen had 11 points and three assists. Sperfslage had eight points and four assists, and Jacob Manternach added eight points.

     “It was fun. It was a great atmosphere,” Lambert said. “We’ve had a lot of close games lately, and it’s good to put the kids in tight games like that.”

     On Friday against Tipton, the Panthers had an early advantage, fell behind, and wound up losing 48-47.

     In honor of Senior Night, the Panthers started the game with some seniors who hadn’t gotten a lot of playing time. Those seniors responded by helping the Panthers build an early 11-2 lead.

     “They made some shots, they valued the ball, they didn’t turn it over,” Lambert said. “I was happy for them and proud of them.”

     The Tigers came back, though, largely due to post player Logan Hoffman who finished with 24 points.

     “He’s physical. He created space. He’s a tough matchup,” Lambert said.

     Monticello led 21-20 at halftime and trailed 32-31 after three quarters. The teams were tied 39-39 with four minutes to play, but then Tipton opened a 44-39 lead, and still led 48-44 with 23.3 seconds to play.

     Josh White drilled a three-point basket with 12.4 seconds to play to cut the margin to one. The Panthers got one more chance when Tipton missed a pair of free throws, but couldn’t get the winning score.

     “I thought the kids ran our sets well in the fourth quarter; we just couldn’t make them,” Lambert said. “In that game total we probably missed 10 or 12 point-blank layups. You can’t do that.”

     Sperfslage led the Panthers with 10 points, while White had eight and Jacob Manternach scored seven. Jordan Breashears and Alex Nealson had five rebounds apiece. Breashears also had four assists and three steals.

     Monticello had a final regular season game scheduled at Bellevue Feb. 7, and will open district play with a quarterfinal game against Waukon Monday, Feb. 13, 6:30 p.m. at MFL MarMac in Monona. The winner goes to Cascade for a Feb. 16 semifinal game.

     “We’ve got to clean it up,” Lambert said. “We’ve got to finish inside, and expect the contact. Every team in our district is going to be physical.”


Jan. 31

Monti     16    8  11  12 – 47

Cas.       13  17    9  10 – 49

     MONTICELLO (47) – Avery Martensen 4-9 0-0 11, Jacob Manternach 3-7 2-2 8, Alex Nealson 6-9 2-4 14, Andrew Tjaden 2-5 2-2 6, Kyle Sperfslage 3-9 0-2 8, Josh White 0-3 0-1 0, Taylor Manternach 0-0 0-0 0, T.J. Nealson 0-0 0-0 0. Totals 18-42 6-11 47.

     CASCADE (47) – Brock Simon 4-8 3-4 12, Dilan Simon 1-5 0-0 2, Johnny Supple 4-6 0-0 10, Gannon O’Brien 4-8 0-0 11, Haris Hoffman 4-10 4-8 14, Derek Koppes 0-2 0-0 0, Bryce Simon 0-1 0-0 0. Totals 17-40 7-12 49.

     Three-pointers: Martensen 3, Sperfslage 2; O’Brien 3, Supple 2, Hoffman 2, Bro. Simon.

     Rebounds: Monticello 26 (A. Nealson 7, Sperfslage 7, Martensen 6), Cascade 24.

     Total fouls: Cascade 12, Monticello 11.


Feb. 3

Tipton  12   8 12 16 – 48

Monti   13   8 10 16 – 47

     TIPTON (48) – Zach Ford 0-1 0-2 0, Daulton Mente 2-6 0-0 4, Andrew Stewart 2-9 5-6 9, Frank Bierman 1-3 1-4 3, Logan Hoffman 10-13 4-7 24, Luke Becker 1-3 0-0 3, Jacob Tischuk 1-3 1-4 3, Brenden Claussen 0-0 0-0 0, Trent Pelzer 0-0 0-0 0, Blake Wilkins 0-0 0-0 0. Totals 17-37 10-13 48.

     MONTICELLO (47) – Josh White 2-4 2-2 8, Alex Kremer 1-3 0-0 2, Taylor Manternach 2-5 0-0 4, Jordan Breashears 2-6 2-2 6, Connor Franzenburg 1-2 0-0 2, Kyle Sperfslage 4-7 1-3 10, Alex Nealson 4-9 0-0 8, Jacob Manternach 1-5 5-6 7, Avery Martensen 0-2 0-0 0, Andrew Tjaden 0-4 0-0 0. Totals 17-47 10-13 47.

     Three-pointers: Becker; White 2, Sperfslage.

     Rebounds: Tipton 25, Monticello 23 (Breashears 5, A. Nealson 5, J. Manternach 4.

     Total fouls: Monticello 19, Tipton 18.



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