TITLE IS ALL OURS
JEWELL – South Hamilton finished off its run to an outright Heart of Iowa Conference championship with – what else? – a fourth-quarter rally Tuesday night on Coach Jim Marsh Court.
Trailing 49-45 entering the final eight minutes, the Hawks hopped on the back of senior shooting guard Trevor Ullestad and outscored North Polk 27-15 to capture a 72-64 victory in front of an appreciative home crowd.
It was the 11th consecutive victory for the Hawks (18-3, 16-2 HOIC), who last lost to North Polk, 56-54, on Jan. 10. At that time they trailed then-HOIC leader PCM by two games, but the month-long surge catapulted them in front of everyone else.
“I’m very pleased with the effort that the guys put forth, especially in the month of January,” South Hamilton head coach B.J. Terrones said. “We had a lot of away games and it was a very difficult path to get where we did. The players really stepped up at key times in key games.”
South Hamilton’s blemish-free end to the regular season was keyed by dominant fourth quarter play. The Hawks have outscored their last 11 opponents by 70 points in the final period and by 42 points in just the last three games. They won the quarter in 10 of 11 games, the only disadvantage coming in a contest they led by 20 entering the fourth.
Rallying from behind might not be the route the Hawks want to take in the postseason, but Terrones doesn’t have many complaints.
“Those last few games of the season we knew we were going to get their best shots,” he said. “Being able to withstand that and then rally, I think it’s something that’s a positive for our team.
“I can’t wait to see our players put together 32 full minutes. If we do that in the postseason we’re going to be a team to be reckoned with.”
Ullestad scored 11 of his team-high 18 points in the fourth quarter in Tuesday’s win over the Comets (9-12, 9-9 HOIC). Andrew Wintermote chipped in six of his 15 total points during the same flurry and the Hawks went nine of 12 at the charity stripe.
Collin Hill added 13 points and Matt Hislop had 11 in the win.
Russell Greene paced North Polk with 19 points. Blake Brauer (16) and Ryley Sandberg (13) also reached double figures.
South Hamilton will be dormant until next Thursday when it will host a Class 2A district final against either Ogden or Eagle Grove.