JEFFERSON – It was just one of those nights when everything was falling for the other team when Ballard took on Carroll in a Class 3A district championship game at Jefferson Feb. 27.
The Bombers used an attacking offense and aggressive defense to hang with Carroll for three quarters. But Ballard never found a way to slow the Tiger offense down all game as Carroll pulled away late to hand the Bombers a 72-50 loss.
The fourth quarter began with Ballard still right in the game. The Bombers were only down 50-41 and Mason Jensen gave Ballard a chance to get closer after getting a steal and drawing a foul to start the final period.
But Jensen missed both free throws and Carroll’s Addison Ross followed with a basket. The hoop by Ross started a 17-3 Tiger run that put the game away.
Free throws and a couple of missed opportunities inside prevented Ballard from keeping the game even closer entering the final quarter.
“At one point we were down nine or 11, and we thought to ourselves on the bench, we missed four straight free throws and two layups earlier,” Ballard head coach Chris Deason said. “Those eight points would’ve been real handy right then.”
After falling behind 22-10 after one quarter Ballard to play catchup most of the game. But the Bombers simply didn’t have the energy to keep up with the red-hot Tigers as Carroll shot 59 percent from the field and made 7 of 12 3-pointers and 19 of 27 free throws.
“They shot it extremely well,” Deason said. “It’s not every night you see someone shoot 60 percent from the floor. We needed to play better defense, but give credit to them – they really shot it well.”
Deason was pleased with how hard his team fought after getting down big early. Led by Jensen, the Bombers refused to go away, and the final score only got away from them when they were forced to constantly foul in the fourth quarter.
“These guys are just hard workers,” Deason said. “We’ve got guys on this team that have every single thing they have because they’ve had to work for it. We’ve got some of those real blue collar kids.”
Jensen scored 21 points in his final game as a Bomber. He made 8 of 21 field goals – including three 3-pointers – and also contributed six rebounds, five steals and two assists.
Sophomore Jaden Moody stepped up with nine points off the bench. Mason Edwards tallied six points, three steals and one block and Nick Hartman had five points, seven rebounds and one block.
Jacob Nethers scored five points and dished out three assists and Kolby Jensen came through with four points, three steals and two assists. With the loss, the Bombers finished 14-7.
The Bomber senior group of Mason Jensen, Nethers, Hartman and Edwards helped Ballard overcome the loss of a large senior group from last year’s 16-7 team to place second in the Raccoon River Conference and return to the district finals.
“I’m really proud of them,” Deason said. “We have two letterwinners back, and go 11-3 in the league and have a legitimate shot to win it. We made it to a district final and beat two ranked teams this year. They were a blast to coach.”
Carroll improved to 18-4. Eli Cleveland led the Tigers with 21 points, nine rebounds and four assists; Cody Netusil delivered 15 points and 11 rebounds; Kolby Molinsky chipped in 11 points and Ross finished with eight points, 11 rebounds, four assists and one block.
Carroll 72, Ballard 50
B 10 17 14 9 – 50
C 22 15 13 22 – 72
Ballard (50) – Kolby Jensen 2-9 0-0 4, Nathan Carlin 0-0 0-0 0, Jacob Nethers 2-9 0-2 5, Jaden Moody 4-8 0-1 9, Mason Jensen 8-21 2-4 21, Cole Wilson 0-0 0-0 0, Mason Edwards 2-6 1-3 6, Chase Seibert 0-1 0-0 0, Nick Hartman 2-4 1-2 5. Totals: 20-58 4-12 50. 3-point field goals (6): M. Jensen 3, Nethers, Moody, Edwards. Rebounds (22): Hartman 7. Assists (8): Nethers 3. Steals (12): M. Jensen 5. Blocks (2): Edwards, Hartman.
Carroll (72) – Kyle Christensen 2-2 0-0 5, Addison Ross 3-6 2-4 8, Dalton Helmkamp 0-1 0-0 0, Eli Cleveland 7-11 5-5 21, Ben Wellendorf 2-2 4-4 8, Cody Netusil 5-8 5-10 15, Caleb Horsley 0-0 0-0 0, Zach Riddel 0-0 0-0 0, Kolby Molinsky 3-8 2-2 11, Colton Thompson 0-0 0-0 0, Chase Netusil 0-0 1-2 1, Kacy Snyder 1-1 0-0 3, Conner Holdsworth 0-0 0-0 0. Totals: 23-39 19-27 72. 3-point field goals (7): Molinsky 3, Cleveland 2, Christensen, Snyder. Rebounds (40): Ross 11, Co. Netusil 11. Assists (18): Ross 4, Cleveland 4, Wellendorf 4. Steals (3): Christensen 2. Blocks (1): Ross.