Prep Basketball

Montezuma is way undersized but good enough to reach boys' state basketball semifinals again

Despite 4 starters 5-foot-10 or shorter, the Braves smash Martensdale-St. Mary's in Class 1A quarterfinals

DES MOINES — They’re small. They know it. Get over it.

Four starters for Montezuma’s boys’ basketball team are 5-foot-10 or shorter. Six of the seven guys on the bench are 5-10 or shorter.

But height doesn’t win games, a combination of things does. And the Braves do a lot of things really well.

Well enough to reach the Class 1A state tournament semifinals for a second straight year.

“The advantage that we have that not a lot of people realize is how quick we are as a group,” said electric guard Trey Shearer, after his team beat down Martensdale-St. Marys, 75-50, in a Monday morning quarterfinal at Wells Fargo Arena. “Their big kids have to come out and guard us all on the perimeter, and that can be tough.”

Darned near impossible in this case. Montezuma (24-2) pulled away from a 32-32 tie in the third quarter to win this one going away.

It was a 20-4 run that did it, all of those points coming from Shearer, a junior guard committed to Division II Truman State in Missouri, and sophomore Eddie Burgess. He’s the biggest Brave, really the only big Brave, at a muscular 6-4.

“We had a stretch there where the guys got hot, and I thought we were able to get out in transition against their team and knock down a few jumpers,” said Montezuma Coach Derrick Dengler. “We knew we were going to have to hit some jumpers against that team because of their size. They’re a very good team. I thought we did a good job of getting penetration and guys got a rhythm and were able to knock shots down.”

How big was Martensdale-St. Marys? It had a 6-10 center in Isaac Gavin, and its leading scorer, Trey Baker, matched Burgess’ phyical stature at 6-4.

ARTICLE CONTINUES BELOW ADVERTISEMENT

Gavin had his way early with 10 points in the first half, but he didn’t score again after a make on the low block made it 32-all. Martensdale-St. Marys (23-4) honestly quit going to him, seeming to panic as Montezuma spurted.

“Definitely them having a taller guy in there was different,” said Burgess, who finished with 19 points and 14 rebounds. “We play in a smaller conference (South Iowa Cedar League), where the biggest kids are 6-3, something like that. Seeing someone that big was definitely different for us, but I think we adjusted well.”

Shearer led the way offensively as he usually does for the Braves, his 24 points actually being one under his season average coming in. Brayden Arendt added 13 points and Masin Shearer, Trey’s freshman brother, 10.

Montezuma didn’t even need guard Cole Watts, who had just five points, 13 under his average.

“You saw that there in this game, where they try and guard Cole or Brayden out on the perimeter, but they’re too quick and can get to the rim,” Shearer said. “Defensively, I think it’s important for us to rebound together. When we rebound better as a group, at the same time, we keep the taller kids off the glass as a group, it works out in our favor.”

“You get to this level, I think we’re obviously the shortest team across the board in the tournament,” Dengler said. “I think the biggest thing for us is to buy into the fundamental part of the game. Everybody can handle the ball for us, everybody can catch and shoot. We usually take care of the basketball really, really well. So we can make up for a few of those (physical) things out there.”

Montezuma, which placed fourth here last season, plays Wapsie Valley (19-7) in a 2 p.m. semifinal Wednesday afternoon.

Montezuma 75, Martensdale-St. Marys 50

AT DES MOINES

MARTENSDALE-ST. MARYs (50): Jack Franey 2-8 0-0 5, Carson Elbert 3-10 2-2 9, Hogan Franey 3-10 0-0 8, Trey Baker 2-11 0-0 4, Isaac Gavin 6-8 0-2 12, Troy Holt 1-3 0-0 3, Gavin Stott 0-0 0-0 0, Derek Kleve 0-2 0-0 0, Brooks Trom 0-0 0-0 0, J.T. Archibald 4-7 1-4 9, Dylan Higens 0-3 0-0 0, Matt Hughes 0-0 0-0 0, Tyler Baker 0-0 0-0 0, Baize Gibson 0-0 0-0 0, Cael Reynolds 0-1 0-0 0. Totals 21-63 3-8 50.

ARTICLE CONTINUES BELOW ADVERTISEMENT

MONTEZUMA (75): Brayden Arendt 5-8 1-3 1, Masin Shearer 3-7 2-3 10, Cole Watts 2-8 1-2 5, Trey Shearer 8-13 6-6 24, Eddie Burgess 6-7 7-10 19, Brydon Henning 0-0 0-0 0, Connor Van Zee 0-0 0-0 0, Joey Kercheval 0-0 0-0 0, Maguire DeJong 1-1 0-0 3, Colton Benson 0-0 0-0 0, Owen Cook 0-0 0-0 0, Gavin Strong 0-0 1-2 1, Brody Chidester 0-0 0-0 0. Totals 25-44 18-26 75.

Halftime — Martensdale-St. Marys 5-30 (J. Franey 1-2, Elbert 1-8, H. Franey 2-7, Baker 0-4, Gavin 0-1, Holt 1-2, Kleve 0-2, Higens 0-3, Reynolds 0-1), Montezuma 7-18 (Arendt 2-4, M. Shearer 2-5, Watts 0-3, T. Shearer 2-4, Burgess 0-1, DeJong 1-1). Rebounds — Martensdale-St. Marys 29 (Baker 8), Montezuma 35 (Burgess 14). Total fouls — Martensdale-St. Marys 19, Montezuma 8. Fouled out — None. Assists — Martensdale-St. Marys 13 (J. Franey 7), Montezuma 14 (Burgess 6).

Comments: (319) 398-8259; jeff.johnson@thegazette.com

Give us feedback

We value your trust and work hard to provide fair, accurate coverage. If you have found an error or omission in our reporting, tell us here.

Or if you have a story idea we should look into? Tell us here.

Give us feedback

We value your trust and work hard to provide fair, accurate coverage. If you have found an error or omission in our reporting, tell us here.

Or if you have a story idea we should look into? Tell us here.