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NP boys win overtime battle over Nevada

North Polk’s Blake Brauer powers up a shot in front of Nevada’s Alex Merfeld during the second half of the Comets’ 62-56 overtime victory over the Cubs Friday at Alleman. Brauer had 14 points and five rebounds in the win. Photo by Joe Randleman
North Polk’s Blake Brauer powers up a shot in front of Nevada’s Alex Merfeld during the second half of the Comets’ 62-56 overtime victory over the Cubs Friday at Alleman. Brauer had 14 points and five rebounds in the win. Photo by Joe Randleman
North Polk’s Ryley Sandberg fires off a pass to teammate Russell Greene as he splits Nevada’s Alex Merfeld (14) and A.J. Strottman (left) during the Comets’ big overtime win over Nevada Friday. Photo by Joe Randleman
North Polk’s Ryley Sandberg fires off a pass to teammate Russell Greene as he splits Nevada’s Alex Merfeld (14) and A.J. Strottman (left) during the Comets’ big overtime win over Nevada Friday. Photo by Joe Randleman

BONDURANT – The North Polk boys’ basketball team was unable to maintain its momentum from a dramatic overtime win over Nevada when the Comets traveled to Bondurant to take on Bondurant-Farrar in a non-conference game Saturday.

North Polk held off a big rally by Nevada to post a 62-56 overtime win at home the night before. But Saturday, North Polk was unable to take advantage of a big rebounding edge as turnovers plagued the Comets all game.

The Comets turned the ball over 20 times on the night compared to just 12 for Bondurant-Farrar. That led to Bondurant-Farrar getting off 13 more field goal attempts and the Bluejays made three more, which turned out to be the difference.

North Polk hit 20 of 43 field goals and 11 of 22 free throws. Bondurant-Farrar was 23 of 56 from the field and 12 of 18 from the line.

North Polk owned the glass, pulling down 37 rebounds to Bondurant-Farrar’s 21. The Comets also made three 3-pointers to the Bluejays’ two.

Russell Greene had 18 point and 14 rebounds for North Polk in a losing effort. Blake Brauer added eight points and five rebounds, Ryley Sandberg had seven points and two assists, Brett Haun chipped in seven points and Reed Smith netted six.

Dillon McBee dished out four assists and Austin Hillebo added three points for the Comets, who fell to 2-4 on the season.

Tyrus Riley led Bondurant-Farrar with 19 points and 12 rebounds. Drake Fuller added nine points, four assists and three steals, Tyvin Riley added nine points and three steals and Sam Duffy also scored nine points for the Bluejays.

Bondurant-Farrar 60, North Polk 54

NP 9 15 14 16 – 54

B-F 12 11 17 20 – 60

North Polk (54) – Russell Greene 7-9 4-10 18, Dillon McBee 0-1 2-2 2, Austin Hillebo 1-4 0-0 3, Ryley Sandberg 3-11 0-2 7, Blake Brauer 2-4 4-4 8, Reed Smith 3-4 0-0 6, Brett Haun 3-8 0-0 7, Hunter Dark 1-2 1-4 3, Chris Flynn 0-0 0-0 0. Totals: 20-43 11-22 54. 3-point field goals (3): Hillebo, Sandberg, Haun. Rebounds (37): Greene 14. Assists (11): McBee 4. Steals (7): Greene 2. Blocks (3): Greene, McBee, Sandberg.

Bondurant-Farrar (60) – Trey Duit 1-3 0-0 2, Tyvin Riley 4-11 1-2 9, Drake Fuller 4-15 0-1 9, Grant Petersen 4-7 1-1 9, Joey Koke 1-2 0-0 3, Tyrus Riley 6-11 7-7 19, Grant Klinefelter 0-1 0-0 0, Sam Duffy 3-6 3-7 9. Totals: 23-56 12-18 60. 3-point field goals (2): Fuller, Koke. Rebounds (21): Tyr. Riley 12. Assists (8): Fuller 4. Steals (11): Tyv. Riley 3, Fuller 3. Blocks (1): Koke.

ALLEMAN – Things nearly got away from North Polk for the second game in a row when the Comets took on Nevada in a Heart of Iowa Conference game Friday at Alleman.

Three days earlier North Polk jumped out to a 12-point lead in the first quarter against Gilbert only to fall by a 67-60 score. On Friday the Comets led by 16 early in the second half, but Nevada rallied all the way back to take the lead in the final minutes.

But this time North Polk didn’t fold.

Austin Hillebo hit a clutch 3-pointer to turn a one-point deficit into a 50-48 lead with 41 seconds left in the fourth quarter. Nevada tied the game with five seconds left to force overtime, but North Polk dominated the extra period to score a 62-56 victory and snap a three-game losing streak.

“After having three straight losses we finally got that ‘W’,” Hillebo said. “This helps us a lot.”

North Polk led by 13 at the half and Hillebo hit a 3-pointer at the start of the third quarter to increase the Comet lead to 35-19. It appeared North Polk had the game well in hand at that point as Nevada was struggling with its outside shooting.

But in the final four minutes of the third quarter the momentum began to shift Nevada’s way.

Back-to-back three point plays from Alex Merfeld pulled Nevada within nine. Riley Huhn then hit two free throws to cut North Polk’s lead to 44-37 by the end of the third.

At the start of the fourth quarter T.J. Fey hit a basket and Cole Gidel nailed a 3-pointer for Nevada and suddenly the Cubs were within two.

North Polk kept Nevada at bay over the next five minutes, but with 2:22 left Gidel hit two foul shots to tie the game and then Patrick Stephenson hit 1 of 2 free throws to give Nevada a 48-47 lead with 2:02 left.

Nevada forced a couple of big defensive stops over the next minute to get a couple opportunities to increase its lead. But the Cubs were unable to take advantage.

That left the door open for North Polk and Hillebo stepped up big for his team.

The senior guard nailed a huge shot from behind the 3-point line with just 16 seconds left to put the Comets back up by two.

“Coach (Tron Scott) told me to go in and shoot,” Hillebo said. “I had all the confidence from him and everyone else. I had an open look and I just took it.”

But Nevada wasn’t done. Merfeld had been the hot hand all game for the Cubs and he came through again in the final seconds – putting back a missed shot with six seconds left to tie the game at 50-50.

North Polk was unable to answer and the game went into overtime.

In the extra session senior forward Russell Greene took over for the Comets.

Greene had been working his way back from a meniscus tear he suffered in football. On Friday there were no signs the injury was bothering him as he scored the Comets’ first seven points in overtime to give them a 57-54 lead.

“I’ve been struggling a little this year,” Greene said. “But I knew I had to find my groove and step up.”

Greene hit two field goals and he was a perfect 3 of 3 at the foul line in overtime. He hit his final six foul shots in the game after starting 0 of 5 at the charity stripe.

“I just relaxed and tuned everything out,” Greene said. “I knew I had to make my free throws for the team.”

After Greene’s final basket in overtime Hillebo hit two clutch free throws to push North Polk’s advantage to 59-54 with 45 seconds left. Merfeld scored with 22 ticks left on the clock to get Nevada back within three, but Ryley Sandberg iced the game for the Comets by going 3 of 4 at the line in the final 18 seconds.

As a team North Polk went 19 of 29 from the line and 20 of 46 from the field. The Comets outrebounded Nevada by a huge 41-24 margin and they held the Cubs to 16 of 46 shooting.

Greene ended up with 20 points and 16 rebounds. Blake Brauer added 14 points and five rebounds, Sandberg had 12 points, seven rebounds, three assists and one block, Hillebo finished with eight points and Dillon McBee had four points and four assists to help the Comets improve to 2-3 overall and 2-2 in the HOIC.

Nevada fell to 1-3 both overall and in the conference. Merfeld was 7 of 9 both in the field and at the line to score a game-high 21 points and he also had six rebounds and one block.

Gidel netted 16 points, Stephenson had nine points and six steals, Huhn finished with seven points, six assists and three steals and Fey had nine rebounds, two assists and a block for the Cubs.

North Polk 62, Nevada 56 (OT)

N 8 11 18 13 6 – 56

NP 15 17 12 6 12 – 62

Nevada (56) – Cole Gidel 4-12 5-11 16, Patrick Stephenson 2-7 4-10 9, Riley Huhn 2-12 3-3 7, T.J. Fey 1-3 1-2 3, Duncan Westphal 0-1 0-0 0, Zach Hansen 0-0 0-0 0, Alex Merfeld 7-9 7-9 21, Jake Barker 0-0 0-0 0, A.J. Strottman 0-2 0-0 0. Totals: 16-46 20-35 56. 3-point field goals (4): Gidel 3, Stephenson. Rebounds (24): Fey 9. Assists (14): Huhn 6. Steals (14): Stephenson 6. Blocks (3): Fey, Merfeld, Strottman.

North Polk (62) – Russell Greene 7-11 6-11 20, Austin Hillebo 2-5 2-2 8, Ryley Sandberg 3-11 5-8 12, Blake Brauer 4-5 6-7 14, Dillon McBee 2-4 0-0 4, Brett Haun 1-6 0-1 2, Reed Smith 1-2 0-0 2, Hunter Dark 0-2 0-0 0, Chris Flynn 0-0 0-0 0. Totals: 20-46 19-29 62. 3-point field goals (3): Hillebo 2, Sandberg. Rebounds (41): Greene 16. Assists (11): McBee 4. Steals (7): Smith 2. Blocks (2): Sandberg, Dark.

GILBERT – A rough second half proved fatal for North Polk in a 67-60 loss at Gilbert Dec. 10.

The Comets jumped all over the Tigers early. They put 23 points on the board in the first quarter to take a commanding 12-point lead.

But Gilbert pulled within 35-27 at the half and by the end of the third quarter the Tigers closed the gap to 43-39. In the final period Gilbert exploded for 28 points to move in front to stay as North Polk dropped to 1-2 in the Heart of Iowa Conference.

North Polk shot 43 percent from the field and held Gilbert to 33-percent accuracy. The Comets also made one more free throw than the Tigers (21-20) and they posted a 40-31 rebounding advantage.

Turnovers and outside shooting plagued North Polk. The Comets gave up the ball 21 times compared to 15 Gilbert turnovers and North Polk made just one 3-pointer against nine for the Tigers.

Russell Greene had a double-double with 15 points and 12 rebounds and he also recorded two assists and a block for North Polk. Ryley Sandberg added 12 points, six rebounds and one block, Blake Brauer had nine points, four rebounds and a block and Brett Haun chipped in nine points, seven rebounds and four assists.

Gilbert had four players score in double figures as Ryan Blum had 13 points, Jared Gescheidler and Jackson Wieland both tallied 12 and Adam Baker finished with 10. Wes Greder tacked on nine points, six rebounds, three assists and three steals for the Tigers.

Gilbert 67, North Polk 60

NP 23 12 8 17 – 60

G 11 16 12 28 – 67

North Polk (60) – Russell Greene 5-9 5-8 15, Dillon McBee 1-3 0-0 2, Austin Hillebo 1-4 0-0 3, Blake Brauer 3-5 3-4 9, Ryley Sandberg 3-8 6-8 12, Brett Haun 3-10 3-4 9, Reed Smith 2-4 2-4 6, Hunter Dark 1-1 2-2 4, Chris Flynn 0-0 0-1 0. Totals: 19-44 21-31 60. 3-point field goals (1): Hillebo. Rebounds (40): Greene 12. Assists (11): Haun 4. Steals (8): Haun 2. Blocks (3): Greene Brauer, Sandberg.

Gilbert (67) – Wes Greder 3-11 1-2 9, Jackson Wieland 3-8 5-6 12, Dax Hatfield 2-6 3-4 9, Chris Culek 1-2 0-0 2, Ryan Blum 4-9 2-3 13, Jared Gescheidler 3-12 6-8 12, Adam Baker 3-3 3-3 10, Zach Swailes 0-1 0-0 0, Ethan Weis 0-1 0-0 0. Totals: 19-53 20-26 67. 3-point field goals (9): Blum 3, Greder 2, Hatfield 2, Wieland, Baker. Rebounds (29): Greder 6. Assists (14): Greder 3, Hatfield 3, Gescheidler 3. Steals (9): Greder 3. Blocks (2): Culek, Gescheidler.

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