What we learned from Ballard's doubleheader losses to North Polk in basketball

Joe Randleman
Ames Tribune
Meg Rietz

The Ballard basketball teams both came up just short on the road against Raccoon River Conference rival North Polk Jan. 4.

The Bomber girls suffered a 47-42 loss to the Comets in a game between two teams ranked in the top five by the Iowa Girls High School Athletic Union. Ballard entered the game ranked third in Class 3A and North Polk third in 4A.

The loss put the Ballard girls at 10-2 overall and 6-1 in the RRC. North Polk improved to 10-1 and took sole possession of first place in the conference with a 6-0 record.

The Ballard boys, ranked 10th in 3A, were upset by the Comets in falling to 5-2 in the conference. The Bombers dropped a 65-64 heartbreaker in triple overtime.

The Ballard boys also came up short against third-ranked Washington Saturday at Coe College in Cedar Rapids. The Bombers suffered a 77-68 setback to fall to 8-3 overall.

Here is what we learned from Ballard's tough week of competition:

Girls can't shake slow start

Playing in their first game since before Christmas, the Ballard girls came out flat against North Polk. The Bombers were outscored 17-5 in the first period.

North Polk led 27-14 at the half. Ballard roared back within 35-31 after three quarters, but its momentum stalled in the fourth quarter.

Rebounds and turnovers were even between the two teams. North Polk had one more rebound (28-27), but also one more turnover (11-10).

Shooting accuracy was the difference maker. Ballard only shot 31.7 % from the field and North Polk 45 %.

Rietz steps up for girls

Meg Rietz played like a senior leader for Ballard against the Comets.

Rietz went for a game-high16 points after making 6 of 9 field goals, 2 of 3 3-pointers and 2 of 4 free throws. She also pulled down seven rebounds and had two steals and a block.

Brooke Loewe turned in a strong all-around game for the Bombers. She went for nine points, seven assists, six rebounds and four steals.

Lily Beall added seven points and Paige Noe scored six off the bench.

Makayla Boatman scored 14 points and LIza Schaffer posted a double-double with 11 points and 10 rebounds for North Polk.

Boys drop marathon

The Ballard boys rallied to tie North Polk at the end of regulation only to fall just short in the third overtime.

The Bombers overcame a poor second quarter where they only scored two points to pull even at 46-46 by the end of regulation thanks to 18 points in the fourth quarter. But they couldn't keep up that offensive momentum in the overtime periods.

Both teams shot nearly identically from the field and made 8 of 21 3-pointers. North Polk shot 42 % and Ballard 41 % overall from the field and the Bombers had a slight edge at the line, making 10 of 18 foul shots compared to just a 5 of 16 showing by the Comets.

Washington's strong start holds

In its game with Washington the Ballard boys suffered the same fate the girls did against North Polk. Washington outscored Ballard 26-16 in the first quarter and the Bombers couldn't make up any ground.

Washington attempted nearly three times as many free throws as Ballard. The Demons were 25 of 33 from the line and the Bombers just 10 of 13.

With starting center Kale Krogh participating at the Jack Mendenhall Invitational for the Ballard wrestling team, the Bombers were pounded on the glass. They were outrebounded, 39-24.

Ballard kept within striking distance thanks to forcing 17 Washington turnovers and only committing nine.

Hermann keeps up explosive scoring

Senior guard Ashton Hermann is the second-leading scorer in 3A at 28.8 points per game. 

Ashton Hermann

Hermann went for 33 points against Washington and 28 against North Polk. He made 11 of 27 field goals and had six rebounds and three steals against Washington and 10 of 26 field goals with 10 rebounds and three assists against North Polk.

Mason Gorsch scored 12 points against Washington and seven against North Polk. Krogh tallied 10 points and eight rebounds versus North Polk, Jacob Ihle finished with nine points, six rebounds and four assists against the Comets and Colby Calvert and Bryce Haessig netted eight points apiece versus Washington.