The 2013-14 season saw the Collins-Maxwell-Baxter boys’ basketball team tap into its potential to produce one of the best seasons in program history.
After years of losing seasons, the Raiders turned the corner this winter. A talented group of players had shown glimpses of being a good team the past two years, but the Raiders couldn’t maintain a high level of play on a consistent basis, going 5-18 and 6-17 respectively.
But thanks to more experience and the leadership of new head coach Scott Brummel, CMB turned the corner in 2013-14. The Raiders finished fourth in the Heart of Iowa Conference with an 11-7 record and they ended up going 15-8 overall.
"I think the kids bought into wanting to turn things around," Brummel said. "They had played together for the last two years and wanted to start the process of becoming better record-wise. They worked hard in practice to get better and it showed in many of the games we played."
The turnaround didn’t begin immediately. The Raiders dropped their first two games of the season – both HOIC contests – versus Saydel and Gilbert.
CMB then edged Colo-Nesco by a 57-52 score on Dec. 7. The victory wasn’t pretty, but it was exactly what CMB needed.
The Raiders went on to win their next five games to enter Christmas break with a 6-2 record.
CMB won at Nevada and Greene County by 52-36 and 64-46 margins on Dec. 10 and 13. On Dec. 17 the Raiders whipped North Polk at home by a 60-43 score, and they took down Grandview Park Baptist by a 65-54 score on Dec. 21.
The hot play continued through the month of January.
CMB toppled Ankeny Christian in its first game back from break, 72-59. The Raiders suffered a 65-48 road loss to eventual HOIC champions South Hamilton the next day, but they responded to the loss with a season-best seven-game winning streak.
A 63-20 dismantling of Colfax-Mingo on Jan. 7 started the winning streak. CMB followed by edging Roland-Story and Saydel in back-to-back one-point games – 61-60 and 63-62.
"I think the team grew playing close games," Brummel said. "In the past it was difficult for them to gain their composure when a team made a run at them. We played in a lot of close games this year, and even though we didn’t win them all, they made us better in the long run."
Then the Raiders whipped Gilbert by a 69-55 score and downed Nevada by a 51-44 margin.
On Jan. 24 CMB pasted Greene County, 87-57, and four days later the Raiders traveled to Alleman and outlasted North Polk, 56-43.
The winning streak came to a close on Jan. 31 as HOIC runner-up Prairie City-Monroe handed CMB a 67-55 loss. South Hamilton then rallied past the Raiders in Baxter, handing CMB a 75-69 loss on Feb. 4.
CMB went on to split its final four regular season games. The Raiders whipped Colfax-Mingo, 62-32, on Feb. 7, suffered a 64-53 loss at Roland-Story on Feb. 11, defeated Woodward-Granger by a 59-39 score on Feb. 13 and lost at home to PCM by a 71-59 margin on Feb. 14.
"Night in and night out we played good teams in our conference," Brummel said. "Many teams had a great chance to win each game in conference play."
The strong January run helped CMB earn an opening-round bye in Class 2A district competition. But the Raiders were unable to get past the semifinals as they fell to a quality South Hardin team in a 56-55 heartbreaker to end the season.
But Brummel said even with the difficult finish, his players can take nothing but positive things away from the season.
"I think the season was a start to turning things around," Brummel said. "That was a tribute to how hard the kids worked. We were in almost every game we played and I thought we represented CMB very well this season."
As a team CMB averaged 57.6 points and allowed 52.8 per game. The Raiders shot 45 percent from the field, 37 percent from 3-point range (making 116 3-pointers) and 68 percent from the line during the season.
CMB averaged more assists than turnovers per game (12 to 11) and the Raiders also averaged 30.4 rebounds, 7.4 steals and 2.5 blocks per game.
Junior center/forward Bryce Kemp, senior guard Austin Moorman and junior forward Seth Balke all averaged in double figures for CMB during the season.
Kemp put up a team-best 13.8 points per game, shooting 50 percent from the field and 75 percent from the line. He also led CMB in rebounding with 9.2 per game and blocks with a 1.4 average and was second on the team in assists and steals with respective averages of 2.3 and 1.5.
Moorman led CMB in assists with 2.4 per game and he also averaged 2.2 rebounds and 1.1 steals. Moorman averaged 10.7 points, shooting 40 percent from the field and 71 percent from the line and he canned a team-best 32 3-pointers at a 36-percent clip.
Balke put up 10.5 points per game shooting 51 percent from the field and 75 percent from the line. He was also outstanding from 3-point range, shooting 50 percent from behind the arc (25 of 50).
Balke chipped in 4.1 rebounds, 2.1 assists and 1.5 steals per game.
Senior forward Zach Samson was the blue-collar workhorse for CMB.
Samson averaged 8.1 points, 8.6 rebounds, 1.6 assists and 1.2 steals per game. He shot a team-leading 59 percent from the field and made 57 percent of his free throws.
Juniors Tommy Galloway, Joey Nissen and Patrick Girard, and sophomore Brady Stover were the other major contributors for CMB.
Galloway averaged 6.7 points, 2.1 assists, 1.7 rebounds and 1.0 steal per game. He was second on the team in 3-pointers made with 26 and also shot 74 percent from the line.
Nissen made 23 3-pointers and shot 37 percent from behind the arc. He averaged 4.4 points per game.
Girard averaged 2.6 points and 3.2 rebounds. He also blocked 14 shots on the season.
Stover canned nine 3-pointers at a 39-percent clip and ended up scoring 2.4 points per game.
CMB only loses three seniors after this season. But it will be tough to replace the production of Samson and Moorman, along with the leadership of reserve Jake Stratton.
"They contributed in many different ways this year," Brummel said. "Hard work in practice, dedication to turning things around, leadership and competitive spirit will be things that we will miss from that group."
But with the return of three other starters and three experienced reserves, CMB has a good chance to keep its positive momentum going in 2014-15.
"Lots of guys who played good minutes will be returning next year," Brummel said. "We also have JV and freshman squads that played some good basketball coming up as well."