A young Ballard boys’ basketball team went through some rough patches in 2017-18, but the Bombers showed they could be a quality team when they put everything together.
Ballard finished 9-13 overall. The Bombers came in fifth in the Raccoon River Conference with a 6-8 record.
The season started with Ballard winning four of its first seven games. The Bombers had a rough go from the end of December through January, losing eight of 10 outings during that stretch, but they rebounded to win three of their final four games in the regular season.
“It was an up-and-down season,” Ballard head boys’ basketball coach Chris Deason said. “I thought we started out well, had a rough January, and finished well in February. The thing that remained the same was the effort of our players. They continued to battle and play hard all season.”
The Bombers defeated Adel-Desoto-Minburn (57-52) and Bondurant-Farrar (69-60) and whipped Boone (60-45) and Nevada (81-59) during their opening seven-game stretch. Ballard came up short against eventual state qualifier Norwalk (101-75), Pella (59-52) and Dallas Center-Grimes (51-43).
“We started the season with two injured players and only one player returning who had significant playing time last year,” Deason said. “That was a big challenge.
Carlisle defeated Ballard by a 64-50 score and Pella Christian handed the Bombers a 69-55 loss in their final two games before Christmas. In its first game back from break, Ballard suffered a 74-59 loss at Perry, but the Bombers bounced back to edge Gilbert on a last-second 3-pointer by Chase Winterboer, 67-66, on Jan. 8 at Gilbert.
Ballard fell at home to Carroll (70-47) and at Winterset (76-62) in its next two games, then defeated ADM at Adel by a 70-61 margin. The Bombers suffered losses to Boone (65-53), Bondurant-Farrar (71-53) and Carlisle (74-61) in their next three games to close out January.
On Feb. 2, Ballard avenged its earlier loss to Perry with a 45-42 home victory over the Bluejays. Ballard lost at Carroll four days later, 80-68, but on Feb. 9, the Bombers upset Winterset, 58-47, at Huxley.
The regular season finished up with Ballard winning a non-conference game over Des Moines Lincoln, 72-64.
“Down the stretch we could have easily given up when we were sitting on six wins in late January, but our guys kept battling and were playing our best basketball at the end of the year,” Deason said. “ We beat conference leader Winterset at home on senior night, then defeated 4A Des Moines Lincoln in our regular season finale.”
Ballard got a rematch with DCG in the Class 3A substate quarterfinals on Feb. 19 at Norwalk and the Bombers suffered a 51-40 setback to see its season come to a close.
The Bombers averaged 59.0 points, shooting 45.3 percent from the field and 66.8 percent from the line and they made 108 3-pointers at a 32.9-percent clip. On defense, Ballard gave up an average of 63.7 points and held opposing teams to 42-percent shooting from the field.
Ballard averaged 30.0 rebounds and gave up 32.3 per game. The Bombers forced 12.7 turnovers per game and committed an average of 15.7.
Winterboer — a junior guard — and freshman forward Connor Drew were Ballard’s most consistent offensive threats during the season.
Winterboer averaged 13.5 points, 3.2 assists, 2.4 rebounds and 1.7 steals and he shot 40.7 percent from the field and 82.1 percent from the line. Winterboer led Ballard in 3-pointers with 68 and shot 38.4 percent from beyond the arc.
Drew averaged 12.6 points, 7.5 rebounds and 1.2 assists in his first season of varsity competition. Drew shot at a strong 52.8-percent clip from the field.
Forward Isaac Schafbuch and guard Trey Drummond were Ballard’s top senior performers.
Schafbuch put up 9.1 points, 4.1 rebounds and 1.3 assists per game. Schafbuch led Ballard in blocks with 15 and he shot 50.6 percent from the field.
Drummond tallied 7.0 points, 2.1 rebounds and 1.7 assists per game. He shot 39 percent from the field and 65 percent from the line and made seven 3-pointers playing in 17 games.
Juniors Kegan Odden, Max Olsan, Reece Huen, Isaiah Deason and Brooks Fleischmann all made solid varsity contributions. Senior Nate Briggs also came on late in the season to help Ballard in the low post.
Odden averaged 4.7 points, shooting 51 percent from the field, and he also pulled down 3.6 rebounds per game. Olsan averaged 4.8 points and made 16 3-pointers in 16 games. Huen delivered 3.5 points, 2.2 rebounds and 1.3 assists per game.
Isaiah Deason averaged 3.0 points and 2.2 rebounds and shot 70.6 percent from the line. Fleischmann averaged 1.1 points and Briggs put up 5.2 points and 2.5 rebounds per game, shooting 57.5 percent from the field and 76.9 percent from the line in 13 games.
Chris Deason said he will miss the leadership of Schafbuch, Drummond, Briggs and reserve Evan Andersen. But with Winterboer and Drew back to lead the way, Ballard has a lot of potential for growth in 2018-19.
“We will return 70 percent of our scoring, 65.5 percent or our rebounding and 73 percent of our assists,” Chris Deason said. “ We also got a lot of players valuable experience.”