COLO - The Wolverines climbed their way back into it, but the GMG boys' basketball team had dug itself too big of a hole in the first quarter and ran of out time trying to climb out. Colo-NESCO jumped out to a 15-0 lead in the first quarter, building as big of a lead at 19. The Wolverines started using the 3-pointer to chisel their way out of the hole, but the Royals eventually held on for the 78-69 Iowa Star South win Tuesday night. "The biggest difference was the fast start we had," said Royal assistant coach Brandon Eley, filling in for head coach Patrick Wynja. "At halftime, going in with an 18-point lead really helped us. Credit GMG for fighting back, and 3-pointer after 3-pointer. It was a great game. Can't be too disappointed in the kids. The effort was there. Credit our fast start and willingness to continue to battle." Matthew Hill took the reigns of the Royals (11-5, 10-3 Iowa Star South) in the first half, scoring 11 points in the first quarter and another 11 in the second quarter on his way to leading all scorers with 30 points. Garret Tiarks added 18 for Colo-NESCO, while Philip Bower and Jacob Clatt recorded double digits, scoring 15 and 11, respectively. Aaron Fleming led GMG (6-7, 5-6 Iowa Star South) with 24 points, including making seven of GMG's 14 3-pointers. As a team, the Wolverines had four more 3-point field goals than 2-point field goals. Austin Cox recorded a triplet of threes, finishing with 14. "Anytime you can get perimeter shooting, that is what basketball is today," said GMG coach Michael Plett. "It's speed, spacing and shooting. The three 'S's as we talk about. Anytime you can get perimeter shooting, it forces the defense to expand out and create gaps in the middle. Teams can't pack it in on you. Their defense extended out. That created driving opportunities. It created space for some of our post guys to operate. It makes the spacing so much better." Hill scored nine points as part of Colo-NESCO's game-opening run. A Bower 3-pointer made it 20-2, and Clatt gave the Royals their biggest lead of the opening quarter at 24-5 with a bucket. Hill handed the Royals their biggest lead of the night at 30-10 early in the second with a field goal before GMG really started hitting from downtown to work its way back. Brayden Peterson and Garrett Groth drained threes while Cox made a pair to pull the Wolverines with 10 at 36-26. The Royals closed out the first half on a 10-2 run, seven points coming from Hill, taking a 46-28 halftime lead into the locker room. The Wolverines scored the first six points of the second half, and Fleming made four 3-pointers in the third quarter to gradually get the lead down to 61-50 heading into the fourth quarter. Of GMG's six fourth-quarter field goals, four of them came from beyond the arc, helping GMG get within five points in the final 90 seconds. But the Royals went 6-of-8 from the free-throw line to put the game on ice. "We turned the ball over in the first quarter, and we missed a ton of easy shots," Plett said. "We dug ourselves a hole. We finally snapped it around. A lot of times this season where you don't turn it around. We have a lot of seniors on this team. We have a lot of sophomores playing well, and we were able to turn it around. We went step for step the rest of the way."
Colo-NESCO 78, GMG 69 At Colo GMG (6-7, 5-6) - Conner Stonewall 2 0-0 5, Austin Cox 5 1-2 14, Brayden Peterson 2 2-2 8, Garrett Groth 4 0-0 9, Levi Duden 2 2-5 6, Aaron Fleming 8 1-3 24, Blake Baldazo 1 1-2 3, Hunter Smoldt 0 0-0 0. TOTALS 24 7-16 69. COLO-NESCO (11-5, 10-3) - Parker Eley 0 0-2 0, Philip Bower 6 1-2 15, Garret Tiarks 5 8-11 18, Matthew Hill 12 6-7 30, Bryce Niemeyer 0 0-0 0, Sean Cutler 0 2-2 2, Jacob Clatt 5 1-4 11, Garrett Packer 1 0-0 2. TOTALS 29 18-28 78.
GMG 9 19 22 19 - 69 C-N 26 20 15 17 - 78 3-Point Goals-GMG 14 (Fleming 7, Cox 3, Peterson 2, Stonewall, Groth); C-N 2 (Bower 2).