MONROE — Having lost momentum and nearly a big lead, the Prairie City-Monroe boys’ basketball team needed a boost. The Mustangs needed a spark.
With the help of Colfax-Mingo, PCM got just what it needed to hold off a Tigerhawk team who rallied from an 18-point first-half deficit.
Three live-ball turnovers by the Tigerhawks gave the home team easy points at the other end and allowed the Mustangs to push their lead back to double-figures early in the fourth quarter, and PCM held off a tough Tigerhawk squad, 59-49, during the opening round of the Class 2A District 13 tournament.
“We went to a zone at that point. We thought we could confuse them a little bit because they are used to us playing man to man,” said PCM senior Elijah Sperfslage, who finished with 10 points, four rebounds, four assists and two steals. “We were able to jump in the passing lanes and take advantage of some soft passes.”
The win pushes the Mustangs to the district semifinals against West Marshall (14-7).
That game will be the first of a doubleheader at 6:30 p.m. Thursday in Le Grand. The nightcap will be undefeated and seventh-ranked East Marshall (20-0) and Pella Christian (8-14).
Pella Christian defeated South Hardin, 72-49, in the first game Monday night.
The first half Monday night belonged to PCM junior Andrew Van Ryswyk. He scored 19 of his 21 points in the first two quarters, and that helped the Mustangs grab a 32-15 lead at the break.
Van Ryswyk opened the game with a 3-pointer and then buried back-to-back treys in the second frame to put the Mustangs up 25-7. He completed his double-double with 10 rebounds.
“He’s getting hot at the right time. He opens the floor up for everyone when he is knocking down those 3-pointers,” Sperfslage said. “He can shoot it as well as any of us so it’s nice to be able to go to him in big spots.”
The Tigerhawks lost two starters early in the game. Sophomore Brady Berkey suffered an injury while fouling PCM junior Reed Worth early in the second quarter. Senior Reegan Van Dyke fouled out midway through the second quarter.
“That was a big dagger,” Colfax-Mingo coach Nick Noring said about the Berkey injury. “We would have loved to have him in the game in the fourth quarter. He’s one of our best guards and is out there as a sophomore for a reason.”
Van Dyke buried two triples to get the Tigerhawks within 12 but then picked up his fourth foul at the other end. He fouled out on the same play after picking up a technical foul.
“It was big at the time because he was the only one stepping up and making shots at that moment,” Noring said. “He likes to block shots but he has to know that he has three fouls. He has to understand that he has to pull back sometimes, but his effort is something I will never second guess.”
Despite not having two starters, the Tigerhawks (15-6) still found a way to rally in the third. After each team traded buckets to start the frame, Colfax-Mingo rattled off eight straight to close within nine.
PCM (16-5) countered with a pair of buckets, but C-M senior Jarod Nichols scored on back-to-back possessions to trim the Tigerhawks’ deficit back to eight.
After PCM senior Jackson Thomas nailed a 3-pointer to put his team up 11, Colfax-Mingo ended the third with back-to-back treys from senior Misha Seebeck and junior Holister Koenig. It was Seebeck’s first made trey of the season and Koenig banked in his shot from long range.
“It would have been really nice to get a solid start in the third and put them away early, but we just couldn’t do that,” PCM coach Fred Lorensen said. “They started to make some shots. They got it to five off a 3-pointer from a kid who hadn’t made a 3-pointer all season and then another 3-pointer was banked in.
“You have to give them credit. Those 3-pointers counted. I noticed that.”
PCM, winners of three straight games, made sure the Tigerhawks couldn’t get closer than five. Sperfslage and Worth each had a live-ball steal and a layup at the other end on the first two possessions, and then Worth turned a third straight Tigerhawk turnover into a layup to push the Mustangs’ lead back to 11.
Colfax-Mingo, which had its four-game win streak snapped, turned it over on three straight possessions but had only 11 turnovers in the game.
“We had highly efficient possessions and then all of the sudden our guards stopped being tough with the ball,” Noring said. “We started making unforced errors. It was careless. That really deflates us as a group.
“It was a chance for a few of our younger players to step up in a big moment but unfortunately it didn’t go our way.”
Nichols scored six of the game’s next eight points to keep his team in it. He finished with a team-high 20 points and 13 rebounds. Nichols capped his career at 1,132 points and a school-record 846 rebounds.
PCM answered with baskets by Thomas and Sperfslage. Nichols got it back to nine with another bucket, but Worth buried 3-of-4 from the line in the final minute to keep the Tigerhawks at arm’s length.
“That was a huge stretch. We were struggling at the offensive end and needed a boost,” Lorensen said. “Andrew picked up his third foul so we took him out. I am not sure if not having him out there got us out of sync or what, but we needed some big plays. Those steals helped us out a lot.”
Worth scored seven of his 14 points in the fourth quarter and chipped in three rebounds, three assists and three steals.
Colfax-Mingo senior Jonathan Jacobs scored five points in both the first and third quarter and finished with 10 points and 10 assists in the loss. He finished with a school-record 174 assists on the season.
Colfax-Mingo 7-8-24-10 — 49
Prairie City-Monroe 16-16-12-15 — 59
Colfax-Mingo (FG/3pt-FT-F-TP) — Brady Berkey 0-0-1-0, Reegan Van Dyke 2/2-0-5-6, Jonathan Jacobs 4/1-1-3-10, Alex Lewis 0-1-1-1, Jarod Nichols 7/1-5-4-20, Misha Seebeck 3/1-0-1-7, Holister Koenig 1/1-0-3-5. TOTALS: 18/6-7-18-49.
PCM — Elijah Sperfslage 5-0-2-10, Reed Worth 4/1-4-1-14, Jackson Thomas 3/1-0-1-7, Noah Lanphier 1-0-1-2, Andrew Van Ryswyk 7/3-4-3-21, Dayton Boell 1/1-0-0-3, Derek Brown 0-0-2-0, Isaac Telfer 1-0-3-2. TOTALS: 22/6-9-13-59.