The Collins-Maxwell boys basketball program continued to make progress during the 2021-2022 season.
The Spartans went just 2-19 their first year as a program in 2017-2018. They went 5-15 the following year and 7-15 the next two before finishing their 2021-2022 campaign at 9-11 overall and 6-6 in the Iowa State Conference South Division.
“Each year since the start of Collins-Maxwell our goal is to improve on each season and we did that,” Collins-Maxwell head coach Wes Stover said. “We dropped a couple games that we should have won, but overall we improved. This year’s team played tight as a team.”
Collins-Maxwell fell to top rival and eventual ISC South champion Baxter in its opener, 50-28. The Spartans came back with a 57-36 victory over Valley Lutheran then suffered a 67-60 loss to Meskwaki at home.
Collins-Maxwell won their next three games over Clarksville (79-36), North Tama (77-73) and GMG (70-50) before falling to Colo-NESCO (52-40) in its final game before Christmas. The Spartans hit a rough patch in their return from break, losing their first three games.
Waterloo Christian handed Collins-Maxwell a 56-53 loss in its first game back from break and the Spartans also fell to Martensdale St. Marys (80-64) and Baxter (64-47). A 71-59 victory over Woodward Academy Jan. 17 snapped the losing streak.
The Spartans followed up the Woodward Academy win with victories over Valley Lutheran (73-27) and Meskwaki (76-42). North Tama snapped the winning streak by handing Collins-Maxwell a 73-53 loss and the Spartans ended January with an 84-54 setback at GMG.
Collins-Maxwell opened February with a 62-48 revenge win over Colo-NESCO. The Spartans lost to Gladbrook-Reinbeck (73-33) and BGM (61-35) then defeated Woodward-Granger (66-54) to close out the regular season.
In the first round of Class 1A district play Collins-Maxwell lost the rubber match to Colo-NESCO. The Spartans suffered a 63-58 loss to end the season.
“With the exception of the conference champions, Baxter, we beat everybody in our conference at least once,” Stover said. “This showed exactly what we were capable of doing when we could just bring it all together.”
Collins-Maxwell averaged 57.8 points and gave up 57.6 per game. The Spartans shot 37.6 % from the field, averaged 36.4 rebounds and 9 steals and had 12.7 assists against 16.3 turnovers.
“For being a small team, I think we have improved in our team rebounding,” Stover said. “This team was the most aggressive we have had, but they still have a long way to go.”
The Achilles heel for Collins-Maxwell all season was its free-throw shooting. The Spartans only shot 55.6 % from the line.
“We ranked 123 out of 146 in 1A for free-throw attempts and 121 for made free throws,” Stover said. “This is attributed to our lack of driving the ball to the basket. Our offense was based on driving the ball and shooting the 3 and we are just too shy about taking the ball into the lane. We became a much more aggressive team this season, but still need a lot of work in this area.”
Stover said his team had a tough time getting everyone to click at the same time. But he also said different players were able to step up each night to help keep the team competitive.
“We never knew who was going to be our hot hand on any given night,” Stover said. “For the most part, between Weston Kahler, Jace or Luke Huntrods, one of them would step up and lead us. I think that made it tough to prepare for us. Usually you look to focus your defense on your opponent’s top scorer and ours was different nearly each game.”
Kahler was the top all-around performer for Collins-Maxwell. The junior guard averaged 11.4 points, 8.4 rebounds, 4.8 assists and 2.5 steals.
Jace Huntrods put up 12.3 points, 2.6 rebounds, 2 assists and 1.5 steals per game in his junior year. He shot 42.3 % from the field and 64.4 % from the line and made a team-best 34 3-pointers.
Luke Huntrods tallied 12.2 points, 7.7 rebounds 2.3 assists and 1.7 steals per game. He shot 40.6 % from the field and made 20 3-pointers.
Senior Austin Kepple came on late in the season. Kepple averaged 9.1 points, 6.1 rebounds, 1.2 steals and 1.1 assists and he made 27 3-pointers and shot 78.3 % from the line.
Junior Dane Beattie tallied 8.4 points, 2.7 rebounds and 1.3 assists per game and he shot 40.2 % from the field and 73.9 % from the line. Sophomore Lane Oswalt averaged 2.7 points and 3.4 rebounds, senior Brayden Bartleson 2.4 points and 1.5 rebounds, junior Ethan Haus 1.7 points and 1.9 rebounds and freshman Ian Beattie 1.3 points.
Next season Collins-Maxwell must find a way to replace Kahler and Kepple. The Spartans will also be without Stover, who is stepping down as head coach.
But if Collins-Maxwell can build depth to support the Huntrods brothers the Spartans have a chance to continue their upward trend as a program under a new coach in 2022-2023.