Royal boys took a big step forward in 2020-2021: C-N went from 3-19 to 8-13

Joe Randleman
Nevada Journal
Ephram Muntz was a valuable performer on the perimeter in helping the Colo-NESCO boys' basketball team improve 5.5 games from a year ago.

It took a few weeks to get going, but by the end of the 2020-2021 season the Colo-NESCO boys’ basketball team had made major strides as a program. 

After going 3-19 each of the previous two years Colo-NESCO ended up this season with an 8-13 record. The Royals went 5-7 in the Iowa Star Conference South Division, earning as many conference victories as they had won in the previous two seasons combined. 

“I think overall we really improved as a team as the season went on,” Colo-NESCO head coach Brandon Kelley said. “The team did a great job of dealing with all of the expectations that were set in place due to COVID and the team really stuck together and started to get on a little roll after Christmas.” 

Colo-NESCO started 0-6 with losses to Collins-Maxwell (56-53), Dunkerton (74-36), GMG (52-32), North Tama (34-29), West Marshall (41-29) and Meskwaki (73-38). The Royals ended their skid with a 66-30 rout of Clarksville on Dec. 17. 

After Christmas Colo-NESCO was an even 7-7.  

In January the Royals fell to Tripoli (49-43), defeated Valley Lutheran (53-27), lost at Baxter (47-30), avenged their earlier loss to Collins-Maxwell (57-47), won a defensive battle with BGM (25-21), came up short at BCLUW (53-37), got revenge on GMG (48-46) and lost to Meskwaki (52-29).  

“It took our team a little longer than we had hoped for to establish an identity and figure some things out,” Kelley said. “But I was really impressed with how much we improved after Christmas break.” 

February saw Colo-NESCO crush Valley Lutheran (65-25), earn an exciting 43-42 comeback win over Baxter, lose at North Tama (70-53) and fall just short against Waterloo Christian (44-41) to close out the regular season.  

“I think our comeback wins against GMG and Baxter were some of the highlights along with just being able to get back to playing basketball,” Kelley said. 

In Class 1A district play the Royals opened with a 63-25 victory over Valley Lutheran. They fell to Grundy Center in the quarterfinals, 54-20, to end the season. 

“It was a struggle in the early part of the season due to being a young team and not being able to get much work done in the summer months,” Kelley said. “I think our offense improved as the season progressed and our guards outside shooting improved as we were able to hit some outside shots to open up the inside game. Our 1-2-2 half-court trap was able to get our transition game going and get us some easy baskets.” 

Colo-NESCO averaged 42.4 points shooting 36 % from the field, 23 % from 3-point range and 55 % from the line. The Royals gave up 45.8 points per game and averaged 27.5 rebounds. 

“I think our biggest strength was our defense,” Kelley said. “We ended up 30th in 1A for points allowed and it really kept us in almost every game we played.” 

Freshman Lucas Frohwein, senior Tanner Ingle and junior Kenny Cutler were the top scorers individually for Colo-NESCO. 

Frohwein averaged 9.5 points, 5.7 rebounds and 1.3 steals. He shot 45 % from the field. 

Ingle tallied 7.3 points and 4.5 rebounds and shot 41 % from the field. Cutler averaged 7.0 points, a team-high 3.5 assists, 3.1 rebounds and 1.5 steals and led the team in 3-pointers with 21. 

Juniors Bradley Thomas and Ephram Muntz averaged 5.4 and 3.4 points respectively. Thomas made 16 3-pointers and averaged 2.6 rebounds and 1.2 steals and Muntz averaged 2.4 assists and 1.3 steals. 

Sophomore Spencer Hansen averaged 2.8 points, senior Trevor Burg 2.7, senior Parker Ryan 2.2 and sophomore Nolan Smith 1.9. Hansen also averaged 1.4 rebounds, Burg 2.2, Ryan 3.5 and Smith 2.1. 

Juniors Andrew Grover and Andrew Tschantz also played in more than 10 games. They both averaged 1.1 points and Tschantz pulled down 1.7 rebounds per game. 

Ingle and Ryan were the only seniors that played nearly every game. 

Tanner Ingle (32) was a strong senior leader for Colo-NESCO in 2020-2021.

“Tanner and Parker always lead by example and are great kids,” Kelley said. “They always put the team first and accepted whatever role we gave them. We will definitely miss them and their size next year and they will be a big hole to fill.” 

With most of the roster back Colo-NESCO can make even bigger strides next season. But they still have some ground to make up if they want to become serious players in the ISC South Division race. 

“It will be nice to have a summer program again this summer since we couldn't really have one last year,” Kelley said. “The biggest key will be getting guys into the gym to work on their ball handling and shooting. The Colo and Zearing gyms will not be available to use for most of the summer so we will have to make the best out of using the McCallsburg gym.” 

If the returning players do put in the time over the offseason and they can stay healthy Kelley likes the potential of the 2021-2022 Royals. 

“We have to improve on our dribbling and shooting,” Kelley said. “The good news is that these two areas can be worked on at any time in the offseason. If we can improve in the areas we need to improve in we could contend for a conference championship.”