Saturday, February 26, 2011

Royals Run Comes To End

Sometimes, it’s the luck of the draw. And, sometimes, that draw stinks.

I don’t care what anyone says, that was a state tournament game tonight. The events at Wells Fargo Arena in 2 weeks are just a formality. Besides, Wells Fargo Arena’s got nothing on the Roundhouse.

Lynnville-Sully beat Colo-Nesco, 52-35, and they will probably go on to win the state championship. They are that good. They beat two top ten teams to get there (and why there were 3 top 10 teams in one region is beyond me, but that’s a whole other conversation), and they’ve got it all—2 good inside players over 6’5, and two really good guards, including one of the best in the state—Chase Cullen, a junior.

But this column’s not about Lynnville-Sully, its about a Colo-Nesco team that has given its community one heck of a ride. This wasn’t how it was supposed to end for this group of seniors. Back-to-back 20 win seasons, 3 substate appearances in 4 years, and a top 10 ranking are all things that cannot be taken away. The wins on the road this year against North Tama, Tripoli and Don Bosco were some of the most fun basketball games I’ve ever been to.

It hurts right now. Bad. But you’ve got to focus on the amazing things that have been accomplished in the last few years. Things to be proud of.

Thursday, February 24, 2011

Royals Date With Roundhouse Is Set

The Royals beat Coon Rapids-Bayard, 47-32, to advance to the substate game on Saturday night at the Roundhouse in Marshalltown at 6:30 pm. The opponent will be Lynnville-Sully (22-2).

Colo-Nesco led by double-digits most of the night. The lead fell to 8 midway through the fourth quarter, and a Coon Rapids-Bayard three-pointer that went in and out made things a little uncomfortable. That would have cut the lead to five, but the Royals stayed tough and battled out the victory.

The Royals used their size to dominate the defensive glass, limiting Coon Rapids-Bayard to few second-chance opportunities. Thirty-two points is a season low offensively for Coon Rapids-Bayard, who made the state tournament last year. Brandon Eley led the way with 22 points (unofficially).

Tuesday, February 22, 2011

Too Close For Comfort; Royal Boys Win By 2

The Royals led by 12 at the end of the third quarter, then survived a flurry of three-pointers by East Greene in the final forty-five seconds (three of them) to hang on for a two-point win, 55-53.

East Greene was a good shooting team with five senior starters that proved their 18-4 record was no fluke. Colo-Nesco started the game strong, leading 15-9 at the end of the first quarter. East Greene grabbed their first lead of the game at the 6:45 mark in the second quarter, and the lead changed hands eight times before half time, with the Royals leading 29-27.

Colo-Nesco outscored East Greene 16-6 in the third quarter and led by 9 points with 45 seconds to play. A free throw by Bryan Angell gave the Royals a 5-point lead with 9 seconds left, but East Greene hit a shot from nearly half court that pulled them within 2 with 2 seconds left. Brandon Eley successfully passed the ball in bounds, the clock expired, and the Royals survived and advanced.

Brandon Eley led the way with 31 points. The Royals play Thursday night in Story City at 7 pm.

Saturday, February 19, 2011

Royal Girls Bow Out To Lynnville-Sully

The Colo-Nesco girls’ basketball season came to an end Friday night, falling to a veteran, ninth-ranked Lynnville-Sully team, 39-28.

While the girls didn’t literally take a bow at the end of the game (obviously), they certainly could have. Their season was a magnificent production—something to be proud of. Who knew, coming off a 4-19 record a year ago, that this team would be so successful so quickly? Certainly not this writer/fan.

I told coach Cafferty after the game that it was truly a pleasure to cover the team over the course of the season, and I meant it. It was an honor. Cafferty mentioned how blessed he was to be able to coach this bunch of girls, and I can say the same about writing for them. They’ve got great heart and determination and team chemistry. I’ve been so amazed at how well they have jelled together over the last 3 months, each girl discovering her role as coaches Cafferty and Hendrick shuttled them in waves onto the court, consistently playing 10 different players. With their full-court pressure defense and three-point shooting, they really were fun to watch.

The team finished 16-7 and won 11 of its last 13 games. Like any great performance, you hate to see it end. But with 7 of the team’s top 10 players returning next season, including the top five scorers, stick around—the encore could be special.

Sunday, February 13, 2011

February Frenzy!

College basketball has its own term for tournament time (March Madness), so why doesn’t high school? “February Frenzied” is exactly the way many Royals fans may feel (hope to feel) in the next two weeks as the school could potentially play as many as 7 games in the next 13 days.

It all starts Tuesday in Colo as the girls play their second-round game against Meskwaki (9-12), a team the Royals beat twice in the regular season by a combined total of 43 points. If the Royals win that game, that would set a Friday match up against Lynnville-Sully (17-4) or Montezuma (14-8) at 7 pm in Newton. A win in Newton would result in a sub-state game in Grinnell on Monday, February 21.

The boys begin their post season on Thursday, also in Colo, against either Paton-Churdan (2-18) or Madrid (4-16). Should the Royals continue to win, they could play as many as 3 games in 5 days the following week, culminating in a sub-state game at the Roundhouse in Marshalltown on Saturday, February 26.

It’s time to “Drink the Kool-Aid.”

By Andrew Gogerty

Saturday, February 5, 2011

Another close win by Royal boys takes its toll on coaches/fans

If you see Royals coach Pat Wynja walking around with a cane and gray hair next week, there’s a reason why: Back-to-back nights of boys’ basketball barn-burners are taking their toll on Royals fans and coaches. “I feel like I’ve aged 20 years tonight,” said Coach Wynja. That was his post-game comment after Thursday nights two-point win at Don Bosco (a game that more than likely clinched a share of the conference title). But there was no rest for the weary, as the Royals were back in action 24 hours later against Woodward Academy (7-8), a team that had won four of its last five, and had wins earlier in the season against Ogden (16-3) and Grandview Park Baptist (14-6). Woodward Academy is the fourth-highest scoring team in the state (all classes) at 70.6 points per game.

It wasn’t pretty, and it wasn’t easy, but the Royals squeaked out another close one in the end, 70-64, in a game that (for the second night in a row) wasn’t decided until the final seconds. To give you an idea of how tight the contest was, the score was tied at the end of the first quarter and the end of the third quarter, and the Royals led by only two at halftime. Foul trouble plagued the Royals as both Brandon Eley and Austin Larsen sat with four fouls for much of the second half. The Royals trailed by 5 points with under three minutes to play, before Ethan Jamison scored six critical points in a row to bring the Royals within a point. A pair of free throws finally gave the Royals a two-point lead with 38 seconds left, and free throws proved the difference in the end—the final 7 points for Colo-Nesco all came from the free throw line.

Both the boys’ and girls’ teams wrap up their regular season Tuesday night in Colo against Dunkerton. The game time has been moved up to 5:30 pm, and it’s probably a good thing--old people need to get to bed early!

Friday, February 4, 2011

Royal Boys Win at #5 Don Bosco; Girls Improve to 13-6

When you beat the #5 team in the state by 2 points on their home court, every basket, rebound, block, steal and assist matters. The Royal boys trailed by as many as 8 points in the first half, battled back to lead by as many as 7 in the second half, then hung on for a 50-48 victory that was decided in the games final seconds. Austin Larsen hit some clutch free throws in the final minute and Don Bosco had a last second three-point shot that fell just short as time expired. Brandon Eley led the way with 20 points and Weston Neuendorf had one of his best games of the season with 11, including a big three-pointer that gave the Royals their largest lead of the night, 31-24, early in the third quarter.

The girls hit SEVEN three-pointers to win easily, 55-38. Madison Eley led the way with 22 points, including her 4 three-pointers. The girls are 12-3 in conference play, with one conference game left before tournament action begins next Thursday.

Wednesday, February 2, 2011

Royals fans and players hoping for a date with the Roundhouse

“The Roundhouse was incredible. Back then it was IT. When you got to play in Marshalltown, that was a big deal…You felt like you had accomplished something if you were playing in Marshalltown.”
~Ed Vaske (Excerpt from Royal Reign)

Royals fans and players have their sights set on one of the most iconic basketball arenas in Iowa—the Roundhouse in Marshalltown, site of the 2011 sub state boys final. To get there, the Colo-Nesco boys must win three games. It all starts on February 17 at 7pm in Colo against the winner of Madrid (3-14) or Paton-Churdan (1-15).

With a first round win, the Royals would most likely face a stiff second-round opponent--East Greene (14-3). East Greene’s three losses this season have been to Exira EHK (40-37), Ankeny Christian Academy (54-44) and Woodward Granger (47-46). The second round contest is scheduled for February 22 at 7 pm, site to be determined.

A third round opponent would likely come from a mix of Ankeny Christian Academy (13-5), Glidden-Ralston (9-7) or Coon Rapids-Bayard (8-7). The third round game is scheduled to be played in Story City on February 24 at 7 pm. Ankeny Christian, Glidden-Ralston, East Greene and Paton-Churdan all hail from the Rolling Hills Conference and are very familiar with each other. Coon Rapids-Bayard’s losses have all come to teams with strong records and/or teams in class 2a, and they are one of two teams in the bracket that made the boys state tournaments last season (Ankeny Christian is the other). Ankeny Christian returned just 3 letter winners from last year’s team, but did return its leading scorer: AIB-bound Tim Olejniczak.

The sub state pairing is set for Saturday, February 26th at the Roundhouse in Marshalltown, and would be the culmination of a busy week of basketball—the third game in five days. The Roundhouse is my favorite high school basketball venue in the state of Iowa. Here’s an excerpt from Royal Reign to get you in the mood:

“The Roundhouse, which opened in 1965, is the biggest high school basketball venue in the state of Iowa with a seating capacity of 5,000. The building is a rarity by Iowa high school gym standards. There are seemingly hundreds of small, vertical, rectangular shaped, multicolored windows that makes the building look like a glowing jewel at night. The court is 94' long, and is entirely surrounded by bleachers. These aren’t just any old bleachers; these are the scariest bleachers man has ever created. Tall, shaky, and full of child-eating gaps between the walkways, they are scary even for the bravest of folk. One could probably fill an entire gymnasium with the lot of coats, purses, shoes, popcorn, candy and small children that have dropped through these gaps over the years. Walking up to The Roundhouse on a chilly evening moments before a big game is enough to make spectators’ stomachs do somersaults in anticipation. Of course, having a stomach full of Zeno’s pizza right before a big game is probably never a good idea, but how can one resist?”

The likely opponent at sub state would most likely be North Tama (14-3) or Lynnville-Sully (14-2). The Royals are plenty familiar with North Tama, having split the conference series during the regular season. Lynnville-Sully, ironically, would be the same team Nesco defeated in 1984 to advance to its first-ever state tournament. Can you name the location of that game in 1984? You guessed it. The Roundhouse.

Tuesday, February 1, 2011

No-namers Lead Fantasy Football Teams to League Titles in 2010

Didn’t win your fantasy football league this year? Thought you drafted really well back in August? Don’t worry. 99 percent of us finished the same way. The problem with your team (most likely) was not your drafting ability; it was your success or failure in picking up the right free agents. ESPN recently listed its All-Fantasy Team for 2010, and 3 of the 8 players on the first team were undrafted on average in ESPN Fantasy Leagues last season: Michael Vick (at the uber-important QB position), Brandon Lloyd at wide receiver and Sebastian Janikowski at kicker. Four more players were not drafted until the late fourth round (Arian Foster), sixth round (Dwayne Bowe, Jason Witten) and eleventh round (Pittsburgh defense). Amazingly, of the 16 players on ESPN’s first and second All-Fantasy Teams, only 3 players were drafted in the first round on average—Adrian Peterson, Aaron Rodgers and Chris Johnson. So, the moral of the story is, if you don’t draft well next year, don’t worry…just make sure you do a good job picking up the scraps off the waiver wire!

Here’s a look at ESPN’s All Fantasy Teams:
1st Team:
QB—Michael Vick
RB—Arian Foster, Adrian Peterson
WR—Brandon Lloyd, Dwayne Bowe
TE—Jason Witten
K—Sebastian Janikowski

2nd Team:
QB—Aaron Rodgers
RB—Peyton Hillis, Chris Johnson
WR—Roddy White, Greg Jennings
TE—Antonio Gates
K—David Akers
DEF—NE Patriots