Spartan boys keep program going steady: Young C-M team finishes 7-15 for second year in a row

Joe Randleman
Tri-County Times
Junior Austin Kepple was a big addition to the Collins-Maxwell boys' basketball team this season. Kepple averaged 10.2 points per game to help the Spartans win seven games for the second-straight season.

The Collins-Maxwell boys’ basketball program kept going at a steady pace in the 2020-2021 season. 

Despite losing four of their top five scorers from a year ago the Spartans posted a 7-15 record for the second-straight season. They finished 5-7 in the Iowa Star Conference South Division, tying Colo-NESCO for fifth place in the conference. 

“My overall take from the season was that we showed some great growth, but we have to learn to be more consistent,” Collins-Maxwell head coach Wes Stover said. “I feel that we left five or six games out there that we should have won.” 

Collins-Maxwell opened the season with a 56-53 win at Colo-NESCO. The Spartans dropped their next five games to GMG (59-38), Janesville (81-36), North Tama (67-53), Meskwaki (57-49) and Riceville (53-49) before thumping Valley Luteran on Dec. 15, 73-45. 

In its final two games before Christmas Collins-Maxwell suffered losses to Dunkerton (74-46) and Wooward-Granger (53-49). Collins-Maxwell won its first two games after the break, defeating Colfax-Mingo in a 67-62 non-conference battle and taking down top rival Baxter at home, 64-54. 

The Spartans then dropped four straight against South Hamilton (77-52), Colo-NESCO (57-47), GMG (68-49) and East Marshall (86-56). They broke out of that funk with a 62-49 home win over North Tama on Jan. 22. 

Collins-Maxwell finished January with a 63-50 loss at Meskwaki and then victories over Paton-Churdan (80-62) and Valley Lutheran (71-24). The regular season came to an end with close losses to Baxter (80-75) and BCLUW (83-79). 

In the Class 1A district quarterfinals Collins-Maxwell took on a Meskwaki team that finished undefeated in the ISC South. The Spartans fell, 70-42, to end the season. 

As a team Collins-Maxwell averaged 56 points per game shooting 37.6 % from the field, 29.2 % from 3-point range and 53.7 % from the line. The Spartans gave up an average of 62.7 points, holding teams to 39.9 % shooting and forcing 14.7 turnovers per game. 

Collins-Maxwell averaged 18.6 turnovers. The Spartans were outrebounded on average, 37.7 to 35.7. 

“Overall, we improved in many categories as a team,” Stover said. “We were second in the conference in scoring offense and all of our hard work in improving in rebounding has helped as we were tops in offensive and defensive boards. I give a lot of credit to this to our new offense that we implemented this season. Unfortunately, we also lead the conference in turnovers, and that has got to be one of our main focal points moving forward, taking care of the ball.” 

Collins-Maxwell got a lot of production out of its starters, with three players averaging double digits in points and a fourth just under nine points per game. But the Spartans only had eight players participate in more than 10 games only six saw action in at least 20 games. 

“Lack of depth was our Achilles heel all season,” Stover said. “We struggled to hold on to games in the fourth quarter - our guys would just lose their legs.” 

Mason Markley was the senior leader for Collins-Maxwell.  

A first-team all-conference performer, Markley averaged 16.3 points, 9.0 rebounds and 2.3 blocks. He led Collins-Maxwell in 3-pointers with 58. 

“He has improved every year since he was a freshman,” Stover said. “Mason led the conference in points scored he leaves Collins-Maxwell as the all-time point leader and with most 3-pointers made over his career.” 

Sophomore forward Luke Huntrods  and junior guard Weston Kahler were also all-conference performers for the Spartans. 

Huntrods put up 11.5 points, 5.4 rebounds and 2.6 assists per game, made 33 3-pointers and shot 43 % from the field.  Kahler averaged 8.7 points, 4.9 rebounds, 4.6 assists and 2.1 steals.  

“Luke Huntrods was one of those young guys that showed great growth all season long,” Stover said. “Weston Kahler already has set our career record in assists with another season to go.” 

Junior Austin Kepple joined the team the second half of the year and averaged 10.2 points and 4.9 rebounds. Huntrods’ brother Jace averaged 6.4 points and 1.7 assists and sophomore Kaleb Dvorak tallied 4.2 points, 6.3 rebounds and 2.0 assists per game. 

Sophomore Dane Beattie averaged 2.5 points and freshman Austin Hennick 1.0 point per game. Junior Brayden Bartleson averaged 1.5 rebounds, sophomore Blake Huntrods recorded nine rebounds and six assists and sophomore Ethan Haus two rebounds and one assist. 

“We graduated a lot of court time (off) last year’s team,” Stover said. “It was enjoyable to see new and young players to our varsity step up to be impact players for us this season.”  

Markley is Collins-Maxwell's only loss heading into next year. It’s a big loss, but with everyone else back the Spartans have a shot at a winning season in 2021-2022. 

“We graduate only one senior, though that is 16 points and 10 rebounds a game,” Stover said. “We are looking at a good returning group with experience.  The key is to now take advantage during the offseason, get the work in and look for a better 2021-22 season.”