The Southwestern Spartans picked up their first win of the season Saturday night, winning over the Graceland JV, 89-62.
The Spartans picked up its first win of the season at home after battling the night prior to Independence. The win came after a slow start, but head coach Devin Kastrup knew the team played to its level in the second half.
“Our biggest discussion there was if we need to be disciplined or do we need to be motivated,” said Kastrup. “Are we going to make excuses or are we going to do what we need to do? Our guys responded well. I knew they were tired from an emotionally charged game before. It was a slow start, but I think in the second half we started to pick it up and play to the level we were capable of.”
Despite the slow start the Spartans entered halftime up 33-27. SWCC pulled away and buried Graceland in the second quarter on its way to an 89-62 win.
Southwestern was led by Demetrius Johnson, who went 9-for-10 from the field with four 3-point field goals. He finished with 23 points in 16 minutes of action, coming off the bench.
Donzell Jones scored 13, Sebastian Zehnder scored 12, James Kelley scored 16 and Akeen Woods scored 14 as other Spartans who amassed double-digit scoring.
Kelley posted nine rebounds, the team high. Johnson had four boards and four steals in the win.
The Spartans were able to mix the bench in with the rotation well with five players coming off the bench for floor time. Of the five, Kyle Hawthorne, Creshaun Brown and Manyiel Wugol saw 20 or more minutes of action.
“There’s never a guaranteed starting five, I’d say,” said Kastrup. “However, I feel like there are a couple of guys that we bring in off the bench that could easily be starters for multiple teams in our league. I like what they bring in off the bench and I like how the rotation flows.”
Off the bench, Hawthorne scored five points and Wugol scored five also.
Noah Nichols, former Orient-Macksburg guard, waived his red shirt to play this season and saw floor time. He played five minutes and picked up a rebound.
The Spartans took on Independence at home for the season opener Friday night. Kastrup and a young team took it to Independence all game, but the youth and inexperience of the team showed late in the contest.
“Friday, we absolutely just battled,” said Kastrup. “I thought it was a back and forth game the entire time and I thought defensively we did a great job. We had a lead a lot of the game it seemed like, it was just the two minute spurt at the end where the inexperience showed and we didn’t close it down.”
The Spartans led entering halftime at 36-34 before Independence pulled away for the 84-76 win.
“It just shows we need to keep growing. We had opportunities to win it and we didn’t put it away,” said Kastrup.
The Spartans were led by Kelley in points with 23. He went 8-for-9 from the field with five rebounds and five steals.
Woods scored 18 and picked up seven rebounds, six off the defensive glass, for the team high.
Kelly and Woods’ play across both games was noticeable from Kastrup, who feels their excellent weekends can improve as the team grows with them.
“I thought they had great weekends,” said Kastrup. “I thought Akeen can continue to be more aggressive, actually. I think he fits within our system perfectly and I think that he’s starting to find his own. He knows when to make the right choice and I’ll never criticize him for being more aggressive because I trust his decision making because I know he has the team in mind.
“With James, with the right mindset, he can be an all-conference guy. His job is if he can be consistent with it and can he bring it every night and can he do it for 40 minutes. When he’s on, he’s a problem. He’s a problem, for sure,” said Kastrup.
Off the bench for the Spartans, Brown scored 14 off the bench and Hawthorne had six rebounds.
The Spartans shot 48.3 percent from the field and 70.6 percent from the charity stripe. They lost the turnover battle, surrendering five more than Independence.
UP NEXT – The Spartan men are back in action Wednesday against Quakerdale Prep Academy with tip off scheduled for 7 p.m. at Southwestern.
Prior to the game SWCC will be hosting a community appreciation night, sponsored by Creston Automotive.
Admission to the event will be free of charge and the first 50 fans in the door will receive a free Southwestern t-shirt. Rick Benson of Creston Automotive will be grilling pork tenderloins for $5 dinner baskets. Grilling will start at 6:15 p.m.
SWCC Shoppe also hosts its Holiday Open House Wednesday from 8:30 a.m. to 7 p.m. Twenty percent off apparel, food samples and free holiday gift wrap will be available.
Southwestern 89, Graceland 62
GRAC (62) — 27 35
SWCC (89) — 33 56
Graceland JV statistics unavailable
SOUTHWESTERN (FG FT PTS) — Totals — 31 10-14 89. Demetrius Johnson 9 1-1 23, James Kelley 5 3-3 16, Akeen Woods, 5 2-3, 14, Donzell Jordan 4 2-2 13, Sebastian Zehnder 4 0-0 12, Kyle Hawthorne 2 1-3 5, Manyiel Wugol 2 0-0 5. FG shooting — 31-59 (52.5 percent). 3-point goals (17) – Zehnder 4, Donzell Johnson 2, Kelley 4, Demetrius Johnson 4, Woods 2, Wugol 1. Rebounds — 28 (Kelley 9, Woods 7). Assists — 0. Steals — 11 (Donzell Johnson 4). Blocked shots — 3 (Zehnder, Kelley, Hawthorne). Turnovers — 19. Team fouls — 15. Fouled out — Donzell Johnson.
Independence 84, Southwestern 76
INDE (84) — 34 50
SWCC (76) — 36 40
INDEPENDENCE (FG FT PTS) — Totals — 27 21-29 84. Sam’i Roe 7 4-6 20, Tim Dalger 6 6-9 19, Payton Hudson 4 2-2 14, Ryle Burley 4 0-0 9, Tonje Durham 2 3-4 7, Cedrick Harris 1 3-4 6, Jaden McClanahan 1 2-2 4, Marlo Brown 2 0-0 4, Juan Hood 0 1-1 1. 3-point goals (9) – Hudson 4, Roe 2, Dalger 1, Burley 1, Harris 1. Rebounds — 49 (Dalger 18, Brown 9, Harris 7). Assists — 16 (Roe 5, Hudson 4, Dalgger 2, McClanahan 2). Steals — 6 (Roe 3, McClanahan 2). Blocked shots — 3 (Brown 1, Burley 1, Justin Evans 1). Turnovers — 11. Team fouls — 17. Fouled out —none.
SOUTHWESTERN (FG FT PTS) — Totals — 28 12-17 76. James Kelley 8 6-8 23, Akeen Woods 8 1-1 18, Creshaun Brown 5 2-4 14, Sebastian Zehnder 2 0-0 6, Donzell Johnson 2 0-1 5, Kyle Hawthorne 2 1-1 5, Demetrius Johnson 1 2-2 5. FG shooting — 25 58 (48.3 percent). 3-point goals (8) – Zehnder 2, Brown 2, Demetrius Johnson 1, Woods 1, Kelley 1, Donzell Johnson 1. Rebounds — 27 (Woods 7, Hawthorne 6). Assists — 8 (Brown 2, Kelly 2, Charles Johnson 2). Steals — 9 (Kelley 5). Blocked shots — 0. Turnovers — 16. Team fouls — 20. Fouled out — none.