JUCO basketball: Warriors win regional opener at Marshalltown

Jan. 19—MARSHALLTOWN — Trevion LaBeaux has had his fair share of success at the Hellyer Student Life Center over the past two seasons.

There's just something about being on the road, especially this season, that seems to bring the best out of the Indian Hills sophomore.

LaBeaux set a new career high on Wednesday night, reaching 30 points for the first time in his collegiate career leading the 16th-ranked Warrior men's basketball team to an 82-52 win at Marshalltown in the Iowa Community College Athletic Conference opener. The sophomore topped his season and career-high set at Coastal Alabama-North earlier this season, which came just one day after setting a new career-high with 25 points at Northwest Florida State.

For the season, LaBeaux is now averaging 14.5 points a game, third-best in the ICCAC. In six road games this season, LaBeaux is averaging 20.7 points a contest.

"I just feel like having the crowd against gives me a little bit more of an edge," LaBeaux said. "I want to play harder. I want to beat the team even more just because their crowd is there cheering for them."

Indian Hills also redeemed themselves after falling on the road last Thursday, 86-78, at Sauk Valley. The Warriors had the game in Illinois called off twice in consecutive days before finally making the trip to face the Skyhawks in a game that IHCC fell behind by as many as 23 points before getting as close as six in the final minutes.

"There's been a bad taste in our mouths for the past six days," Indian Hills head men's basketball coach Josh Sash. "We talked about needing to prove to ourselves that we can go on the road and win. When you go on the road, it's tough. It's even tougher when you go on the road for a league game. This was a good step in the right direction, but we're going to have to continue to take it up another notch."

The Warriors were tested early by the Tigers, who entered the game with just four wins. Opening regional play, Marshalltown looked to start fresh against No. 16 IHCC battling back and forth throughout the first 13 minutes as the teams exchanged six ties and three lead changes.

Mekki Sisk scored eight of Marshalltown's first 14 points, including a tiebreaking 3-point play with 13:33 left in the first half and a drive to the basket that gave the Tigers a 14-10 lead just over a minute later. Indian Hills rallied to catch Marshalltown at 19-19 on a tip-in by William Beugre-Kassi before a corner 3-pointer by Angus Ole gave the Tigers their final lead of the night.

To turn the tide back in their favor, the Warriors used a philosophy that might work well out on neighboring Shawn Williams Field, the home diamond of the Marshalltown baseball team. Rather than looking to make big game-changing plays, Indian Hills simply took the ball at the Tigers resulting in several fouls and several free throw attempts.

"Coach was telling us that we didn't need to hit home runs. We just needed to hit singles," LaBeaux said. "We started attacking and saw how quickly and easy we could get the ball to the basket.

LaBeaux scored seven consecutive points for Indian Hills, including five of six free throw attempts giving the Warriors a 26-22 lead. Davonate Hall and Buerge-Kassi would follow with free throws of their own as IHCC ignited a 19-3 run from the charity stripe, ultimately taking a 38-30 halftime lead over the Tigers.

"I felt like, early on, the guys were trying to hit those big home-run plays," Sash said. "We just needed to keep it simple. As we moved the ball and shared it, there were some breakdowns in their defense and we were able to attack those gaps. That got us into the paint and we were able to either take it in for easy baskets or we were able to get to the line. They were in foul trouble early on."

Indian Hills outscored Marshalltown 10-4 from the foul line in the first half, earning over twice as many attempts from the line in the first 20 minutes. The Tigers were called for 16 fouls in the first half, putting Marshalltown back on their heels to avoid further foul trouble.

"In junior college, there are some inconsistencies in officiating. You don't know if the game is going to be called pretty tight or it's going to be called loose," Sash said. "You just need to figure it out as the game goes along and adjust. Chris Mpaka picked up two early fouls, but we put him back in a couple times in the first half and talked with him at halftime about playing without fouling. He did a much better job of that in the second half. There were a lot of solid contributions up and down the line by all of our guys."

Marshalltown (4-12, 0-1 ICCAC) stayed within striking distance of the Warriors through the first eight minutes of the second half pulling within 51-41 of IHCC on a jumper by D.J. Hamilton. The Tigers had a chance to cut even further into the lead after a defensive rebound on the ensuring possession, but the pass up the court was picked off by LaBeaux who drove in for a basket that kicked off a 19-2 game-clinching run for Indian Hills.

"For me, the play's never over," LaBeaux said. "I'm going to keep playing. I'm going to keep going. I always have an eye for the ball. Some way, I'm going to find a way to get my hands on that ball."

Amarion Nimmers added 12 points for Indian Hills. Hall scored 10 points and dished out a team-leading five assists for the Warriors.

Four players reached double figures for Marshalltown, paced by 12 points apiece from Ole and Tyler Burrows. Sisk finished with 11 points for the Tigers while D.J. Hamilton came off the bench to score 10 points.

Indian Hills (13-4, 1-0 ICCAC) now faces their toughest road regional test of the regular season on Saturday. The 16th-ranked Warriors take on Southeastern at Loren Walker Arena on Saturday night in West Burlington starting at 7 p.m.

"I don't know if there's anything better in junior college. Indian Hills and Southeastern is the best rivalry in the game," Sash said. "I've been a part some other good rivalries. North Dakota State and South Dakota State is a good one. Grand View and William Penn is a good one that people locally has enjoyed.

"With this one, it doesn't matter what the records are. If we're playing really well or they're playing really well, you can throw all that out the window. When we go down there on Saturday night, we're going to have to be dialed in because you know Southeastern's going to be dialed in."

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