With the most successful group of basketballers to come through Creston High School back in town for a celebration of its feats, the current iteration of the Panthers eased their way to a 63-36 home win Saturday.
The all-day Red Out resulted in riled up rows of rowdy rooters to watch the roaring Panthers wreck the Red Oak Tigers in Hawkeye 10 conference play.
“It was a great night. Great atmosphere,” Creston coach Taylor Phipps said. “I was really proud of our defensive effort. The second and third quarter defensively we really buckled down.”
Back in town were all but two of Creston’s 1996-1997 state championship-winning boys basketball squad, including the coaches. The news section of CNA has the story today.
The squad met up in a reception at the school and were honored at halftime at half court by the school and by KMA radio’s sports director Derek Martin, who presented coach Mike Gerleman with a plaque for the team, honoring the ‘96-97 team as the first whole unit to go into the new KMA Athletic Hall of Fame.
“Honest truth here, the team that I originally thought of (for induction), the first team that I thought of was this team...and it just so happened it was the 20-year anniversary,” Martin said during the ceremony.
Kylan Smallwood had a strong first-quarter performance, scoring nine of his game-high 20 points, helping Creston jump to an 18-12 first quarter lead after eight minutes.
Smallwood was a playmaker in the first, attacking the rim and making things happen all over the court.
“Kylan’s at his best when he’s active on the defensive end and getting looks in transition and attacking the basket,” Phipps said.
Smallwood finished with 20 points, and was appreciative of the community support at the game.
“It was great to show them that we played for them and what we did was really special for our community,” Smallwood said.
He was already thinking about what he could have done better immediately after the game.
“I think I could have hit more people open and I could have made my free throws and hit my three’s but I think it was a pretty good game. But I still have stuff to work on,” Smallwood said.
Cody Crawford’s long 3-pointer from beyond the left wing sent the Panthers grooving into the second.
The Panthers moved the ball as well in half-court settings as they have all year. Continued movement resulted in plenty of open looks for the Panthers around the perimeter and inside the paint.
“We did a nice job of executing on the offensive end. Getting really clean looks and stayed aggressive attacking the pain,” Phipps said. “Taking good 3-pointers, we weren’t just forcing shots.”
Good ball movement helped Trevor Downing and Tucker Flynn to combine for 15 points.
Crawford knocked down a trio of 3-pointers on his way to 13 points.
The Creston defense impressed in the second and third quarters, yielding just six points in both periods. A 13-6 third quarter advantage came as Flynn dumped in two buckets and the Panther defense held firmly.
Evan Jacobson tickled the nylon with an exclamation 3-pointer in the fourth to make the score 51-27, and the Panthers were able to call on the guys all the way at the end of the bench.
Panther great Kyle McCann, the program’s all-time leading scorer, first-team all-state performer and gridiron great (McCann was a multi-year starter as the signal-caller for the Iowa Hawkeyes), weighed in on coming back home.
“It was great to get all the guys back together again,” McCann, who lives in Des Moines now, said. “Enjoyed the reception beforehand and got a chance to catch up with everybody. Cool to be the first team to go into the KMA Hall of Fame.”
He liked aspects of what he saw in this year’s basketball squad.
“I like their size a lot. They have a lot of nice physical athletes and they were able to get the job done tonight,” McCann said.
No JV stats were available and the freshmen did not play due to low numbers at Red Oak. JV stats will be in later this week.
RO (36) — scoring — Ryan Lundgren 13, Weston Rolenc 6, Brandon Flathers 4, Connor Johnson 3, Isaac Birt 3, Mario Lepe 3, Ryker Connell 2, Cole Carlson 2. 3-point goals — 6 (Ryan Lundgren 3).Team fouls — 15. Fouled out — None.
Crest (63) — scoring — Kylan Smallwood 20, Cody Crawford 13, Trevor Downing 9, Tucker Flynn 6, Evan Jacobson 4, Jaden Driskell 3, Brenden McDowell, Cole Higgins 2, Eli Loudon 2, Deaven Reese 2. Totals — 3-point goals — 6 (Cody Crawford 3, Kylan Smallwood 1, Jaden Driskell 1, Evan Kacobson 1) Team fouls — 17. Fouled out— None.
RO (36) — 12 6 6 12
CR (63) — 18 14 13 18