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Boys basketball: Sigourney shoots past Big Reds

Feb. 7—CENTERVILLE — When it rains, it pours.

When it doesn't, things can get dry in a hurry for the Sigourney boys basketball team.

The Savages experienced both ends of the spectrum in a 24-hour span to open the final week of the regular season. On Monday at Lakeview Gymnasium, Sigourney caught fire early from beyond the arc sinking four of their 15 made 3-pointers in the very first quarter, sparking the Savages to a 22-point opening period on the way to a 74-53 win over Centerville earning an impressive non-conference road win.

Just one night later, Sigourney managed just 23 total points over four quarters against unbeaten Keota. The sixth-ranked Eagles never looked back after jumping out to a 16-5 lead, rolling to a 75-23 South Iowa Cedar League win on Tuesday to close out the regular season.

"It's a young group. You've got three sophomores, a freshman and a junior starting," Sigourney head boys basketball coach Mitch Eslick said of his team. "It's a group that plays with confidence. That's a good thing when you have it and a bad thing when you lose it.

"They're young still. On a night like (Monday) night, they made a few shots early and got a lot of confidence. When that happens, the flood gates really open."

The player that caught fire early for the Savages was Solon Yates, who sank a trio of 3-pointers in the opening quarter as Sigourney opened an 18-12 lead over the Big Reds. Ike Molyneux added seven points in the period, including a putback and a lay-up off a steal in the final minute to put Sigourney up 22-16.

"When one of those guys plays well, we've got a chance. When two of them play well, we've got a really good chance," Eslick said.

Yates and Molyneux were joined in double figures by Isaac Bruns, who scored 19 points for the Savages including a 3-pointer to open a nine-point second quarter. Yates and Molyneux would follow Bruns by sinking 3-pointers on the next two Sigourney possessions, pushing the lead for the Savages to 31-16 with 6:26 left in the opening half.

"When all three of those guys are playing well, we're really hard to beat," Eslick said. "It's a very unselfish group. They don't care who gets the points. They just want to win."

Centerville tried to keep up with the Savages, going inside to Ryan Sinnott for 15 points and nine rebounds as well as Daniel George who came within a basket of a double-double finishing with nine points and a game-high 10 rebounds for the Big Reds. Ultimately, the perimeter attack proved to be the difference for the Savages with Sigourney outscoring Centerville 27-6 from beyond the arc while building a 44-32 halftime lead.

"I felt like our defensive energy could have been a lot better," Centerville head boys basketball coach Tyler Baze said. "We kind of came in flat and Sigourney made us pay for it. They hit shots early and got us into a deep hole. We just couldn't overcome that early deficit."

Centerville kept fighting, cutting Sigourney's lead to 53-43 with a run of six straight points as Malachi Rice found Sinnott inside before driving in for a basket off a rebound late in the third quarter. The Savages, however, had an answer with key 3-pointers by Yates in the second half including a four-point play with 3:16 left helping to clinch the win as Sigourney stretched its lead to 67-49 late in the fourth quarter.

"Our coaches really give us confidence. They encourage us to keep shooting because they know that, when we get to shooting well, we can really space the floor," Yates said. "It speaks to how hard we've been working. We had weights on (Monday) morning. Afterwards, I went into the gym to shoot with my dad. We'll also shoot during lunch. We try to get in as much shooting practice as we can.

"We knew we had to answer each time Centerville made a run, but we were confident enough that we were going to do so."

Yates led all scorers with 24 points in Monday's win, finishing 7-12 from 3-point range while adding eight rebounds and six assists. Molyneux challenged for a triple-double for the Savages, scoring 21 points while hauling in nine rebounds and dishing out nine assists.

"We've been playing together forever. We know where to find each other out there on the court," Yates said. "When everyone's playing well, there's a lot of space on the floor. Teams have to help off me to stop Ike from driving, but Ike's also a good distributor. Isaac also shot it really well, so our spacing was on point. With the way we run our offense, it can be very hard to guard."

Centerville fell to Knoxville, 70-38, on Tuesday night in South Central Conference action to close out the regular season. Laden Norris led the Panthers to the win with 25 points as Knoxville pulled away in the third quarter, outscoring the Big Reds 30-9 over the first eight minutes of the second half.

Centerville finishes SCC play with a 7-7 conference record, matching their overall .500 record of 10-10 with a five-game losing streak heading into postseason play. The Big Reds head to Albia on Monday for a Class 2A district quarterfinal contest in the rubber match between the SCC rivals with both teams earning home wins against each other in two games decided by a combined 11 points.

"We want to win every time out on the floor, but that game at Albia is going to be huge," Baze said. "We felt like that game should be played in Centerville. We had the better overall record, the better conference record and the most recent win between the two of us when the pairings came out. We definitely have a chip on our shoulder for that game."

Sigourney (13-7, 10-7 SICL) wraps up the regular season against WACO on Friday. The Savages open the Class 1A district tournament at Danville on Monday.

"I thought we'd done enough to get a game at home, so that's a little disappointing," Eslick said. "Going into that stretch, getting a win at Centerville is huge for our confidence."

— Scott Jackson can be reached at sjackson@ottumwacourier.com. Follow him on Twitter@CourierScott.