The Collins-Maxwell boys’ basketball team had its moments in 2019-2020, but the Spartans didn’t quite live up to expectations after bringing back the most returning points in the Iowa Star Conference South Division from a year ago.

Collins-Maxwell ended the season at 7-15 overall and placed fourth in the ISC South Division with a 6-6 record. That is up from last year’s respective 5-15 and 2-9 records, but not where the Spartans wanted to be at the end of the season.

“I can’t escape the overall feeling of disappointment and missed opportunities,” Collins-Maxwell head coach Wes Stover said. “We returned the most points in the conference and three players with three years starting experience. We just didn’t get over the hump. I can pinpoint four games from our season that we certainly should have won without much effort. That would have given us 11 wins, and that makes a difference in your season. We let too many opportunities slip away.”

The Spartans went 3-4 before Christmas break. They fell to Colo-NESCO in the opener, 45-42, defeated GMG by a 53-43 margin, lost to Janesville by a 65-48 score, edged North Tama in a 64-61 battle, lost at Meskwaki, 64-39, defeated Riceville in a 57-53 double-overtime nail-biter and came up short against Dunkerton in a close 66-62 affair.

“Our win early in the season versus North Tama was our highest point,” Stover said. “At this point, we felt like we could be a team to be reckoned with in the conference. Our double-overtime win over Riceville showed our perseverance and ability to find a way.”

Collins-Maxwell won three of its first four games after the break. The Spartans whipped Valley Lutheran, 70-21, lost to Colfax-Mingo, 73-59, avenged their earlier loss to Colo-NESCO with a 64-26 drubbing of the Royals and then completed a sweep of GMG with a 59-53 victory over the Wolverines.

But then things started going south for the Spartans. They only won one of their final 10 games - a 61-27 victory at Valley Lutheran on Jan. 31.

Collins-Maxwell suffered loss to East Marshall (73-55), Meskwaki (80-41), Paton-Churdan (65-61), North Tama (56-30), BCLUW (74-58), English Valleys (51-48) and Woodward-Granger (85-56) during the regular season. The Spartans also lost twice to top rival Baxter — 68-65 in overtime at Maxwell and 73-62 at Baxter.

The Spartans opened Class 1A district play against traditional power Grand View Christian on Feb. 20 in Ankeny. They fell by a 94-57 score to end the season.

“I enjoyed every day that I got to step in the gym with my team,” Stover said. “I had a group of seniors that I have been able to watch grow since they were freshmen. That is always one of the great things about coaching.”

Stover said a lack of consistency and aggressiveness hurt Collins-Maxwell down the stretch.

“Overall, we hesitate to drive the ball to the rim, collect fouls and get to the free throw line,” Stover said. “We need to get better at shooting from the perimeter. Some nights we could show strong potential, and other nights look like we never played the game. In the games we needed our biggest play, we fell off shooting — shooting 26 percent in our (second) game against North Tama for example. We were a better team and winning that game secures us a third place in the conference and we score single digits in three of the quarters.”

As a team Collins-Maxwell averaged 55 points shooting 39.8 percent from the field, 28.7 percent from 3-point range and 55.6 percent from the line. The Spartans gave up 60 points per game and averaged 32.2 rebounds.

“We led the conference in rebounding by a strong margin,” Stover said. “We were able to cut down on our opponents second chance shots.”

Senior center Brett Livesay was named to the all-ISC South Division first team, junior forward Mason Markley made the second team and senior guard John Kasper was named honorable mention.

“Brett led the conference in defensive and overall rebounds,” Stover said. “This will be something that we will greatly miss.”

Livesay averaged 12.3 points, 9.6 rebounds and 1.8 blocks. He shot 52 percent from the field and 55 percent from the line.

Markley put up 10.5 points and 4.5 rebounds per game. He led Collins-Maxwell in 3-pointers with 42.

“He showed signs of what he can do,” Stover said. “I would especially like to think that he can make his 24-point performance in our last game a preview of what he does next season.”

Kasper averaged 7.2 points, 3.5 rebounds and 1.6 assists. He shot 66.3 percent from the foul line.

“John Kasper has been our floor general for the past two seasons,” Stover said. “It was very difficult for him this past season because he had surgery last summer on both of his feet. This was an obstacle that John had to play with all season long, often playing in pain, some nights we had to make the decision to either limit his court time or not play him at all. He never wanted to be off the court.”

The team’s other seniors were guard Daniel Klein and forwards Kadin Bennett, Ben Hofer and Simon McKinney.

Klein averaged 5.4 points with 23 3-pointers and he shot 67 percent from the line.

“Daniel Klein was by far our greatest improved player this year,” Stover said. “Not only was he a solid starter all season, he took over the role of point guard. We didn’t expect that much of a gain from him. Daniel was the biggest reason for our decline in turnovers this year.”

Bennett tallied 4.7 points and 4.0 rebounds per game.

“Kadin and Brett had the distractions of football recruiting and decisions of their future all season long,” Stover said. “I am very proud of what these two boys have accomplished. I have been coaching and developing young men in football for 25 years and had the opportunity to coach these two when they were freshmen. So happy to see how they have grown and I am excited for their future.”

Hofer averaged 6.5 points and 3.1 rebounds. He shot 48 percent from the field.

“I really thought Ben’s court time this season would be limited this season, but just gives us so much effort out there, we couldn’t have him sitting,” Stover said. “If you had a team of players that would play with Ben’s heart and hustle, you would be conference champs. Ben was our Mr. Hustle, and his effort is going to be missed.”

McKinney moved from wrestling to basketball this season. He averaged one rebound per game.

“He picked up the game very fast and understood the schematics of what we were doing,” Stover said. “It was the techniques of the game that take years of experience that he lacked in, but he sure didn’t lack in effort. He gave us everything he had. He simply made everyday in practice more fun.”

The freshman brother duo of Luke and Jace Huntrods and sophomore guard Weston Kahler joined Markley as the top underclassmen on the team.

Luke Huntrods averaged 5.0 points and 2.3 rebounds shooting 42 percent from the field and Jace put up 3.6 points per game shooting 64 percent from the line. Kahler averaged 2.7 points and was second to Kasper in total assists on the team with 24.

Sophomore Brayden Bartleson and freshman Caleb Dvorak also saw limited varsity time.

Next season Collins-Maxwell must do some rebuilding with the loss of six seniors. Stover expects the Spartans to change things up a bit in order to be more successful.

“We will be a smaller line-up for sure, so we will have to work on a different way to play,” Stover said. “We have some young players that showed their ability to step up to varsity basketball this season and we hope they develop more and are ready to go next season.”