Spartans lean on Livesay

Joe Randleman Staff Writer
Brett Livesay (24) is averaging a double-double for the Collins-Maxwell boys’ basketball team early in the 2018-19 season. Livesay is attempting to help the young program make a quick turnaround in its second season of existence, after going 2-19 in its inaugural campaign.

Toward the end of Collins-Maxwell’s home game with GMG last Tuesday, Spartan junior forward Brett Livesay wasn’t a happy camper.

GMG was well on its way to decisive 71-47 win over the Spartans. At 6-5, Livesay is Collins-Maxwell’s top post threat and he had taken a pounding from the Wolverine defense all game long.

With the way things were going on the scoreboard, frustration was starting to set in for Livesay.

He’d finally had enough two minutes into the fourth quarter, and let the refs know about it. Livesay was whistled for a technical foul and sat out the rest of the game.

But Spartan head boys’ basketball coach, Wes Stover, wasn’t bothered by the technical.

“It was a very passionate game on both sides,” Stover said. “We try not to drop to that level, but it’s difficult when it’s being that passionate. Guys are going to lose their cool. It was just one of those moments. I wasn’t too upset with it.”

Collins-Maxwell is coming off a 2-19 2017-18 season — its first year as a program. In order to turn the corner and become a competitive team, the Spartans are going to need to show some of that spunk Livesay put on display against GMG.

“I really want it because I really want to build a program,” Livesay said. “When were CMB (Collins-Maxwell-Baxter), it was all football. I really want a basketball program here.”

Stover appreciates the competitive attitude his leading scorer and rebounder displayed against GMG. Livesay still ended up with 12 points and eight rebounds on the night.

“With a year of experience — his confidence has grown,” Stover said. “That’s what we keep working on — just keep trying to feed the ball inside, use the confidence and drive it to the hoop.”

Stover’s players share their coach’s sentiments.

“I like how aggressive he is,” Collins-Maxwell junior Kadin Bennett said. “The T was obviously not good for us, but we want that aggressiveness out of every player we got here.”

They feed off Livesay’s determination and will to win.

“One thing I’ve noticed this year in our games is that when we do get the ball down to Brett and he makes a good move and we get the bucket, the rest of the team kind of picks up a little bit,” Stover said. “When we struggle getting the ball down to him, that’s when we struggle as a team.”

Livesay averaged 7.6 points and 9.9 rebounds as a sophomore. Early in 2018-19, he is showing signs of having a breakout year.

“I’ve been working on a lot of my skyhooks and added in dunking,” Livesay said. “I got a lot better at rebounding. I want to average a double-double.”

Livesay is currently on pace to do just that. Through the GMG game, he was averaging 16.8 points and 10.5 rebounds.

“I feel like he’s way more aggressive down in the box,” Bennett said. “He’s definitely going down there to try and pound the rock in a lot more.”

Having the dominant force in the low post is opening things up for the rest of the Spartans.

“They might have to rely on me for some points, but if I get in trouble it’ll open up more players,” Livesay said. “Then we can go to them and they can score.”

Collins-Maxwell is currently 1-3. The Spartans are enduring a three-game slide, having lost to Janesville and Meskwaki in its two games prior to GMG.

But they are already off to a better start than a year ago.

Last season, it took Collins-Maxwell six games to get a victory. This season they opened with a 47-35 win over Colo-NESCO.

“Getting that first win for us was a big boost,” Livesay said. “We know we got a lot better than last year because last year (Colo-NESCO) blew us out of the water.”

Stover said it will take some time, but he’s hoping for a strong finish to the season.

“We’re miles ahead of where were last year,” Stover said. “But we’re still miles behind where we want to go.”

Collins-Maxwell won’t play again until next Friday. The Spartans will host North Tama in Maxwell.