Ram boys see great season fizzle 16 minutes too early

The Greene County boys basketball team and its fans enjoyed the best season in years, with a 14-7 record, only to see it end with a disappointing 66-36 loss to Dallas Center-Grimes in the first round of Class 3A District 15 play. The Rams went in as under dogs, being the Number 7 seed against the Number 2 seed from a much larger school, but the Ram team has given fans many reasons to still be hopeful of a win.

The Rams scored first on a 3-point basket by sophomore Lance Hughes, but didn’t lead again.  The Mustangs led by eight points, 30-22, but the Rams trimmed the deficit to only four points, 32-28, to end the first half.

What followed was frustration fans of the boys team hadn’t seen this season. The Rams are accustomed to teams focusing their defense on lead scorers Trey Tucker and Trey Hinote, but in other games the Rams have been able to get the ball to other players and they’ve scored. The Mustang defense, though, managed to effectively shut down the Ram offense and the Rams scored no points in the third quarter.

Tucker, junior Wade Adcock (the team’s third highest scorer), and senior Calvin Skalla were close to fouling out early in the quarter, causing them to play a little more cautiously. The referees called technical fouls on  Hinote and Thomas Jacobsen, apparently for “looks” after being called for violations. The Rams had been called for only one technical foul during the season on a procedural violation during the 68-62 overtime loss to Gilbert in Jefferson.

The score was 45-28 when the third quarter ended. Tucker fouled out with six minutes left to play in the fourth. He had scored 11 points in the game, putting his career total at 1,811. He broke the school record previously held by Adam Jones by 273 points.

The highlight of the second half was a basket in the last minute of play by student-favorite senior Jon Strabley. The season which was led by Tucker, the Class 3A top scorer with a 25.1 point game average, ended with reserve Strabley, who had not played basketball until this season, scoring the Rams’ last points.

Hinote, who averaged 16 points per game and shoots at 80 percent from the free throw line, did not score. He missed two free throws. Hughes and senior Thomas Jacobsen scored eight points each and Adcock scored seven.

The free throw stats are telling. The Mustangs were at the line 21 times and made 16 of their shots, while the Rams were at the line only 10 times. Adcock made three free throws in the fourth quarter, the Rams’ only points from the line. The Rams went into the game shooting at 64.8 percent from the line.

The Rams made 13 of 35 shots from the floor for 37 percent; their season average was 50.6 percent.

The 2016-17 season was the first as Ram head coach for Chris Nelson, a 2002 Jefferson-Scranton graduate who coached at Glidden-Ralston before returning to Greene County. The team finished the season in second place in the Heart of Iowa Activities Conference and with a 14-8 overall record. It was the Rams’ first winning season since 2011-12.

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