Fantastic finish highlights 2021-2022 season for Nevada boys: Cubs go 17-6, place second in the HOIC

Joe Randleman
Ames Tribune
Spencer Grant was part of a deep and talented senior class for the Nevada boys basketball team in 2021-2022. The Cubs finished 17-6 and placed second in the Heart of Iowa Conference.

The Nevada boys basketball team used a balanced offense and excellent defense to top 15 victories and place second in the Heart of Iowa Conference during the 2021-2022 season.

The Cubs finished 17-6 overall and 12-2 in the HOIC. Their only conference losses came to a Roland-Story team that went undefeated in conference play and made the state tournament in Class 2A.

Nevada achieved the goal of playing its best basketball at the end of the season. The Cubs won eight straight, including a victory over Adel-Desoto-Minburn in the 3A substate quarterfinals, before falling to eventual state champion Dallas Center-Grimes in the substate semifinals.

"While we fell a little bit short of some goals we had set, I was extremely happy with this season," Nevada head coach Tyler Struck said. "We tied for the third most wins at Nevada over the last 50-plus years. More importantly, our kids worked hard both physically and mentally throughout the year and over time came together as a team.  We were playing our best basketball late in the year and were able to win a district game in convincing fashion.  We set team and individual records and our kids bought in to each other and the coaching staff and continued to improve throughout the season as both players and people."

Nevada thumped Carlisle (72-47) and Prairie City-Monroe (82-56) in its first two games. The Cubs dropped their next two against Iowa Falls-Alden (50-47) and Roland-Story (68-59) before going on a six-game winning streak.

Nevada took down West Marshall (75-44), South Hamilton (57-47), Saydel (68-27), Greene County (84-53), Perry (73-26) and Grundy Center (54-44) during its winning streak. It came to a close Jan. 13 with a 75-48 loss to eventual 3A substate finalist Newton.

The Cubs then lost a 44-42 heartbreaker to Roland-Story Jan. 18, falling just short of a win that would have ended up tying them for first in the conference. They bounced back with a 50-47 victory over Grinnell, but then lost at Gilbert, 55-53.

The loss to Gilbert caught Nevada's attention. The Cubs refocused and went on their big winning streak at the end of the season.

The streak started with dominant victories over West Marshall (64-32), South Hamilton (74-30) and West Marshall (77-50). Nevada took down Greene County in its first game of February, 71-61, then hammered Perry (85-40 and PCM (72-53).

The Cubs ended the regular season by winning a 54-50 battle over Boone. Their final victory in the streak came against ADM by an 82-68 score in the 3A substate quarterfinals.

The substate semifinal loss to DCG came by a 56-38 score.

"This group really bought in on the defensive end of the floor and through a lot of hard work became one of the best defensive teams that I have coached," Struck said. "Even in most of our losses we were able to make other teams do things that they did not want to do offensively and could dictate the pace of the game."

Nevada held opposing teams to 48.7 points per game on 35.6 % shooting from the field. The Cubs forced 14.4 turnovers per game and were dominant on the glass, outrebounding their foes by a 37.8-29.3 average.

On offense Nevada averaged 64.4 points shooting 43.8 % from the field, 55.5 % from the line and 33 % from 3-point range. The Cubs made 193 3-pionters as a team an averaged 12.7 turnovers.

"We also had a great year offensively, finishing in the top 10 in 3A for points per game," Struck said. "We shared the ball well and were very balanced scoring, having six players average over 7.5 points per game and finishing fourth in 3A for assists per game at 16.7."

Nevada's 15.6-point margin of victory ranked third in 3A.

The biggest drawback for the Cubs was inconsistency shooting the ball, especially at the line.

"In our six losses we shot the ball significantly worse than in our wins," Struck said. "Almost every other stat stayed the same for us and our opponents, but some nights we just struggled to make shots."

Seniors James Edwards and Ty Dittmer and sophomore Jacob Khounsourath all averaged in double figures for Nevada.

Edwards did everything well for Nevada. He averaged 12.8 points, 6.8 rebounds, 3.7 assists and 2 steals.

Edwards shot 51.2 % from the field and made 19 3-pointers.

Dittmer tallied 10.4 points, 4.3 rebounds, 2.8 assists and 1 steal per game. He shot 39.8 % from the field and 65.8 % from the line and made 35 3-pointers.

Senior Ty Dittmer averaged 10.4 points for Nevada during the 2021-2022 season.

Khounsourath averaged right at 10 points per game and he was Nevada's top 3-point shooter with 49 3s on 37.4 % accuracy from downtown. Khounsourath shot 41.6 % overall from the field and 80 % from the line and he also averaged 1.9 rebounds and 1.6 assists.

Junior Carson Rhodes, a 6-foot, 7-inch Iowa State football recruit, averaged 9.5 points, 9.4 rebounds, 2.8 blocks, 1.5 assists and 1.1 steals as a strong force in the middle for Nevada. Rhodes led Nevada's varsity regulars by shooting 57.4 % from the field.

Senior Spencer Grant was an excellent inside-outside player for the Cubs. The 6-4 senior forward averaged 7.9 points, 5.5 rebounds, 3.9 assists and 1.2 steals and shot 46.6 % from the floor with 34 3-pointers on 38.6 % accuracy.

Colin Memmer hit 42 3-pointers, shot 75 % from the line and averaged 7.6 points, 1.8 rebounds and 1.1 assists during his senior year.  

Caeden DaSilva averaged 4.2 points, Christian Hawbaker 1.2 rebounds, Caleb Kooiker 1.7 points, Alec Higgins 2.4 points and Connor Schnettgoecke 3.1 points and 1.9 rebounds in limited action for Nevada.

Struck will have a tough time replacing such a large and productive senior class with the loss of Edwards, Dittmer, Grant, Memmer, DaSilva, Hawbaker, Kooiker and Schnettgoecke.

"Since this is my fourth year here I have not known basketball at Nevada without them," Struck said. "I am proud of the growth of this group and am especially proud of how some of our seniors accepted their roles this year.  While they all may not have been overly happy with their roles, they accepted them, worked as hard as they could in them and made our entire team better for it."

But the return of Rhodes and Khounsourath gives Nevada a strong inside-outside tandem to build around heading into 2022-2023.

"The good news is that our JV team had a great season and won a lot of games in and out of our conference and our JV2 team improved as much as any lower-level team that I have had in my coaching career," Struck said. "We also have a very talented and hard-working eighth-grade class joining us next year at the high school.  So while we have a lot of seniors to replace, we have a lot of promising players coming up to go along with a couple very established varsity guys.  I am looking forward to getting started with this group over the summer and starting to build towards what should be another successful season next year!"