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Rams’ season ends in district opener

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By Joel Stevens, Associate Editor

Nearly 40 fouls and 45 free throws.

Not exactly the picture of pretty basketball but it was exactly the kind of tough, defensive-minded game Glenwood coach Curt Schulte envisioned in his team’s Class 3A, District 15 match up with Creston, who split a pair of games with the Rams this season.

Unfortunately the Rams’ offense got out of sync early with foul trouble to leading scorer Robby King and never seemed to recover in a 56-39 loss last Monday.

King was whistled for two fouls in an 18-second spurt of the first quarter and sat out more than six minutes in the first half. The 6-foot-5 senior center finished with a season-low six points before fouling out midway through the fourth quarter.

“They’re hurting right now,” said Schulte after a 20 minute talk with his team following the game. The Rams lost their final six games of the season to finish 9-12. “This is one we thought we could get and get into the district final. Unfortunately we didn’t. I told them hopefully they learn some life lessons from this, not just about the game of basketball, but life lessons in general.”

With King out the Panthers’ took advantage inside. After the two teams combined for more fouls (nine) than field goals in the first quarter (eight), Creston took control in the second quarter when King was whistled for his third foul to score the final five points of the quarter. Creston led 19-14 at the break.

Neither team shot the ball well in the first half and neither team hit a shot from behind the arc until Cole Darrow connected on a three to cut the Panther lead to 21-19 midway through the third quarter. But the Panthers would respond by rattling off an 8-0 run capped by Grant Wood’s layup with 3:20 to go in the third.

Following King’s whistle for his fourth foul, the Rams got a stop on the defensive end and cut the Panther lead to 32-26 on Kirk Porter’s 22-footer to end the third quarter.

After Dylan Blankenship hit 1-of-2 at the free throw line to cut the lead to 32-27, a pair of Wood layups, a Ram turnover, technical foul on Schulte following King’s fifth foul and a layup by Nick Neitzel pushed the lead back up to 41-27 with 6:23 to go.

Glenwood cut the lead to 42-29 on Darrow’s runner in the lane but they could get no closer over the final five minues. Creston hit just 8-of-15 free throws down the stretch but still outscored Glenwood 24-13 in the final frame. Wood, a third-team all-state forward a year ago sat out the first quarter for discpilinary reasons, scored 10 points in the decisive quarter and finished with a game-high 19 points.

The Rams’ 39 points is the third lowest offensive output of the season. Schulte isn’t sure the Rams’ lack of rhythm on offense was due to the Panther defense or being without leading scorer King for more than half the game with foul trouble.

“It hurts not having our best player in there with foul trouble all night,” Schulte said. “It seemed like when he was in there he got whistled for every touch foul and be back on the bench. It hurt not having him in there. We were a little out of synch tonight. We would have liked to have gotten more ball reversals and get the ball swung a little more. We do have a lot of young kids in the rotation who will continue to get better.”

Creston shot poorly on the night and was plagued by turnovers, which would have played right into Schulte’s game plan were it not for the Rams’ offensive struggles. Glenwood shot 35.7 percent (15-of-42) and had just one player (Darrow) score eight points or more.

“We wanted it that way,” said Schulte. “We wanted low tempo and we didn’t want the game in the 70s and 80s. That would not have been to our

favor. I thought we controlled the tempo. We had a low scoring game like we wanted. Unfortunately we missed some bunnines and some free throws. Shoot, we get those to go and we’re right there.”

Glenwood was 5-of-13 at the free line on the night. The Panthers weren’t much better percentage wise but shot 32 free throws, making 16.

“That’s a lot of free throws,” said Schulte when told of the free throw disparity. “Especially for being at home. I’m not sure what you can say for that.”

The Rams finished their season with a record of 9-12 after starting the season 9-3. Schulte, in his third year at the Rams’ helm, is proud of his team no matter how they finished the season. This season marks the third straight Glenwood has finished in the upper half of the Hawkeye 10 Conference and hosted a district game

“I’m proud of them,” he said. “We just didn’t get the ball to roll our way and we didn’t make our free throws. Just the little things like that. But I’m proud of them.”