No. 1 Bomber boys headed to state for third-straight year: Petersen lifts Ballard past B-F

Joe Randleman
Tri-County Times
The Ballard boys' basketball team poses with its state qualifier banner after defeating Bondurant-Farrar, 66-57, in the Class 3A substate finals Monday at Indianola. The No. 1 Bombers are headed to state for the third year in a row.

INDIANOLA – Sam Petersen knew there was no better time to become a difference maker than No. 1 Ballard’s Class 3A boys’ substate basketball final game against Bondurant-Farrar Monday. 

Petersen is a star athlete at Ballard. He has signed to play Division 1 baseball at Iowa. 

But on the basketball court he accepts his role as a complementary player to the Bombers’ talented ‘Run AMC’ trio of Asthon Hermann, Mason Murphy and Connor Drew.  

That is until Monday. Petersen came up with several huge plays in the second half to help the Bombers pull away from a gritty Bondurant-Farrar team and punch their ticket to state for the third year in a row with a 66-57 victory. 

Sam Petersen splits Bondurant-Farrar's Nolan Meyer (left) and Trey McDowell on his way to scoring a basket during the second half of the Bombers' 66-57 victory over the Bluejays in the 3A substate finals Monday at Indianola. Petersen came up with eight points and several timely rebounds, assists and defensive plays to help Ballard make state for the third year in a row.

“He came out here and balled his butt off,” Drew said. “But I see it all the time – it's nothing new to me.” 

Bondurant-Farrar cut a 10-point Ballard lead to two with 3:02 left in the third quarter when a Colby Collison 3-pointer from the corner made the score 42-40. But Petersen scored a basket off a nice jump-stop move in the lane 50 seconds later to put Ballard up five and he finished a 12-0 Bomber run with a nice assist on an Asthon Hermann basket early in the fourth quarter. 

Petersen later scored another basket, followed with two big free throws then came up with a great hustle rebound to set up an emphatic Drew dunk with 2:23 left that put Ballard up 64-48 and put the final nail in Bondurant-Farrar's coffin. 

 “Sam made it had to have been five or six winning plays down the stretch,” Ballard head coach Jeff Schertz said. “There was a loose ball, there was a finish at the rim, at one point he knocks down two free throws and he’s fronting Collison and slides around a lob over the top, deflects it and we pick it up and go score. I could see in his eyes tonight he was going to get some good stuff done.” 

Petersen ended the game with eight points. But he provided so much more value that what is seen in the scoring column. 

“We really wanted to go to state and I was going to do whatever it takes,” Petersen said. “When you’ve got stars like this (Drew, Murphy and Hermann) you make it on the court with effort. It’s awesome to do it.” 

Drew scored 17 points and keyed a 10-0 Bomber run in the second quarter after Bondurant-Farrar had taken a brief 26-25 lead. Hermann went for 19 points and Murphy 12. 

“It was a team effort tonight,” Drew said. “Everyone got it done.” 

Schertz said he was proud of the way his team withstood two big charges by Bondurant-Farrar to earn its third victory of the season of a Bluejay team that was playing its best ball of the season. 

“We had beaten them earlier in the year twice by a pretty good margin, but I kept telling our guys we’ve got to earn it and we’ve got to play every possession and play well,” Schertz said. “They’re mature and they listed. There were some stretches where I would say we didn’t play up to our standard and they made us pay for it – give Bondurant a lot of credit. But we just kept battling. We didn’t get nervous and we didn’t really flinch.” 

The victory was Ballard’s 19th in succession.  

“We’ve won ugly, we’ve won low-scoring and we’ve won high-scoring,” Schertz said. “We found a way again to do it tonight.” 

Ballard will take a 23-1 record into the state tournament. Two years ago the Bombers were handily defeated by Norwalk in the state quarterfinals and last year they ended up placing fourth in 3A. 

“It feels great, but not as good as the first two times just because we’ve done it before,” Murphy said. “But it’s good to have a tough battle. From here on out it’s gonna be tough games for us.” 

Schertz said his players are capable of doing some big things next week in Des Moines so long as they remained focused. 

“Whomever we end up with at the state tournament we’re going to have to play well against,” Schertz said. “If we do I like our chances.” 

Bondurant-Farrar finished at 13-11. Collison scored 20 points, Troy McDowell hit five 3-pointers and scored 17 points and Braden Miller finished with 15 points for the Bluejays. 

Ballard 66, Bondurant-Farrar 57 

BF     7   19   14   17 – 57 

B     17   17   20   12 – 66 

Bondurant-Farrar (57) - Troy McDowell 6 0-0 17, Colby Collison 7 3-4 20, Nolan Meyer 0 0-0 0, Ben Trulson 1 0-0 3, Cade Eichmeyer 0 0-0 0, Andrew Keith 0 2-2 2, Jaxson Fried 0 0-0 0, Braden Miller 6 2-2 14, Titus Cram 0 0-0 0, Toby Berggren 0 0-0 0, Everett White 0 0-0 0, Carter Sanny 0 0-0 0. Totals: 20 7-8 57. 3-point field goals (10): McDowell 5, Collison 3, Trulson, Miller. Fouls: 14. 

Ballard (66) - Mason Murphy 4 2-8 12, Sam Petersen 3 2-3 8, Isaiah Peasley 1 0-0 3, Ashton Hermann 8 2-2 19, Kade Miller 0 1-2 1, Connor Drew 6 4-4 17, Jacob Ihle 0 0-0 0, Kale Krogh 3 0-2 6. Totals: 25 11-21 66. 3-point field goals (5): Murphy 2, Peasley, Hermann. Drew. Fouls: 9.  

HUXLEY – For a brief moment Gilbert looked ready to give No. 1 Ballard a run during the Class 3A boys’ substate semifinal basketball game between the two teams Feb. 25.  

Jacob Papesh hit a 3-pointer in the opening seconds to put the Tigers up 3-0 and elicit a big response from the Gilbert crowd. 

The Tigers came out with energy and passion trying to avoid a third loss to their new Raccoon River Conference rivals. 

Problem is, Ballard was ready to go too. 

Ashton Hermann answered with six straight points to ignite a 12-0 Bomber run. By the end of the first quarter the Bombers had put 31 points on the board and when the horn sounded for halftime there was a 58 under Ballard’s name on the scoreboard. 

Final score: Ballard 79, Gilbert 45. 

Ballard's Ashton Hermann puts a shot up off the glass between Gilbert's Justin Terry and Trenton Forth during the Bombers' 79-45 victory over the Tigers in the 3A substate semifinals Feb. 25 at Huxley.

“They are playing very good basketball,” Gilbert head coach B.J. Terrones said of the Bombers. “Their anticipation, the way that they flow and read off of each other – they're just playing great basketball.” 

The win was the 18th in a row for the Bombers since a 59-58 overtime loss to No. 3 Carroll back in early December. Since that setback Ballard has won every game by double digits, including a revenge win at Carroll by 18 points Jan. 29 and an 11-point victory at No. 4 Dallas Center-Grimes Feb. 18.   

“When come out and perform as a team we’re one of the best teams in the state – I believe that,” Ballard senior forward Connor Drew said. “We’re building confidence. We deserve this right to be here so we’ve got to keep winning.” 

Ballard was an absolute machine offensively against Gilbert in the first half. 

Drew scored all of his game-high 20 points over the first two quarters. Point guard Mason Murphy netted 13 of his 17 points and fellow ‘Run AMC’ mate Ashton Hermann 11 of his 15 during that time span. 

“It’s nice when everything is clicking out there,” Drew said. 

Murphy is the engine that makes Ballard go. His dribble penetration was a nightmare for Gilbert to try and stop. 

“I just love playing Gilbert,” Murphy said. “They play this fast-paced style and it seems I always play good against them.” 

Murphy is the all-time leader in assists at Ballard. He's also picked up his scoring this year, averaging 11.7 points compared to 7.2 a year ago. 

“I just put in a lot of extra work in the offseason,” Murphy said. “Coach (Jeff Schertz) puts me in good positions and I’ve just stepped up this year.” 

Hermann continues to play for his younger brother Jaxon, who is recovering from a heart operation. He was helped out on Thursday by a full Bomber student section in attendance – something that hadn’t happened until Monday’s regional quarterfinal game with Saydel due to COVID-19. 

“I’m playing for Jaxon every game,” Hermann said. “It’s always an emotional night. Just coming back with all the fans back – all the students. It means a great deal.” 

As good as the Bombers looked on offense, their defense has been the real driving force behind their big winning streak. Thursday’s game marked the 13th time during the streak Ballard has held a team under 50 points. 

“We’re guarding people,” Schertz said. “We have an intent and an execution on the defensive end of the floor that is at another level from where it was at the beginning of the year. That’s how we’ve been able to win 18 games in a row.” 

The victory put Ballard at 22-1. 

“We’ve been to state two years in a row - these games are nothing new to us,” Drew said. “We’re going to for the big one this year. It’s not to make it to state this year – it's to win the title. That’s where the bar is for us.” 

Gilbert ended its season at 10-12. Terrones was pleased with how his seniors never gave up to enable the Tigers to outscore Ballard in the second half. 

“After the first half it was good to see those seniors play very good in the second half,” Terrones said. “They went out on their terms.”  

Tanner Henningsen scored 15 points in his final game wearing a Gilbert uniform. Chris Zoz also played well in his last game as a Tiger, finishing with 10 points. 

Ballard 79, Gilbert 45 

G   14   10     6    15 – 45 

B    31   27   11   10 – 79 

Gilbert (45) - Birk Hanson 0-6 0-2 0, Jacob Papesh 3-4 0-0 7, Tanner Henningsen 5-17 1-3 15, Justin Terry 0-3 1-2 1, Easton Johnson 2-5 0-3 4, Trenton Forth 0-2 0-0 0, Spencer Clatt 0-2 0-0 0, Tate Hamer 0-1 0-0 0, Owen O’Brien 0-0 0-0 0, Chirs Zoz 4-6 0-0 10, Ethan Vesey 1-6 1-2 4, Jacob Kautman 0-0 0-0 0, Sean Burns 2-3 0-1 4. Totals: 17-55 3-14 45. 3-point field goals (8): Henningsen 4, Zoz 2, Papesh, Vesey. Rebounds (22): Johnson 7. Assists (12): Forth 7. Steals (8): Hanson, Vesey. Blocks (1): Hanson. Fouls: 5. 

Ballard (79) - Mason Murphy 8-13 0-0 17, Isaiah Peasley 3-5 0-0 9, Ashton Hermann 6-10 2-3 15, Connor Drew 9-16 0-1 20, Kale Krogh 2-3 0-0 4, Alex Upah 0-0 0-0 0, Sam Petersen 0-2 0-0 0, Kyler Watson 0-2 0-0 0, Colby Calvert 2-2 0-0 5, Kade Miller 1-2 0-0 2, Bryce Haessig 0-2 0-0 0, Jacob Ross 2-3 0-0 5, Jacob Ihle 1-3 0-0 2, Jayden Cattell 0-0 0-0 0. Totals: 34-63 2-4 79. 3-point field goals (9): Peasley 3, Drew 2, Murphy, Hermann, Calvert, Ross. Rebounds (43): Drew 13. Assists (23): Murphy 8. Steals (4): Petersen 2. Blocks (5): Krogh 5. Fouls: 13. 

HUXLEY – Ballard made short work of Saydel in the Class 3A regional quarterfinals Feb. 22, cruising to a 73-19 victory. 

The Bombers built a huge 46-7 at the half and coasted the rest of the way. They were able to empty the bench, with 13 different players entering the scoring column. 

Connor Drew had 19 points and nine rebounds for Ballard. Colby Calvert tallied eight points and five boards, Kade Miller seven points and four rebounds and Mason Murphy and Kyler Watson six points apiece. 

Saydel ended its season with a 2-16 record. Judd Roberts led the Eagles with nine points. 

Ballard 73, Saydel 19 

S      7     0     7      5 – 19 

B    25   21   13   14 – 73 

Saydel (19) - Mason Hicks 0-4 2-2 2, Dallas Wicks 0-2 0-1 0, Chris Malone 0-1 0-0 0, Judd Roberts 3-15 2-2 9, Dylan Walker 1-5 3-3 5, Quinn Peak 0-0 0-0 0, Juwuan Loatmann 1-5 0-0 2, Gabe Smith 0-0 0-0 0, Brayden Mallory 0-1 0-0 0, Ben Kayser 0-0 0-0 0, Damiem Akes 0-2 0-0 0, Nick Aagesen 0-1 0-0 0. Totals: 5-36 8-12 19. 3-point field goals (1): Roberts. Rebounds (14): Hicks 6. Assists (5): Hicks 3. Steals: None. Blocks: None. Fouls: 9. 

Ballard (73) - Mason Murphy 3-9 0-0 6, Alex Upah 1-5 0-0 3, Sam Petersen 0-4 0-0 0, Kyler Watson 2-3 0-0 6, Colby Calvert 2-3 3-4 8, Isaiah Peasley 1-5 0-0 3, Ashton Hermann 2-5 0-0 4, Austin Shoen 0-2 0-0 0, Kade Miller 2-2 2-2 7, Connor Drew 7-9 4-6 19, Bryce Haessig 1-5 0-0 3, Jacob Ross 1-3 0-0 3, Jacob Ihle 2-3 0-0 5, Jaren Njos 1-1 0-0 2, Jayden Cattell 0-3 0-0 0, Kale Krogh 2-3 0-0 4. Totals: 27-65 9-12 73. 3-point field goals (10): Watson 2, Upah, Calvert, Peasley, Miller, Drew, Haessig, Ross, Ihle. Rebounds (39): Drew 9. Assists (18): Peasley 3, Drew 3. Steals (15): Murphy 3, Hermann 3. Blocks (6): Drew 3. Fouls: 16.