MIFFLIN — There haven’t been an abundant of joyful moments for the Iowa–Grant boys basketball team this year.
The Panthers finally returned from a nearly three-week layoff due to COVID-19 Saturday and took a pair of lopsided losses to Fennimore and Mineral Point in a rare Saturday morning–night doubleheader.
Monday was more of the same in terms of final score, as SWAL co-leading Darlington scored 62 first half points en rout to a dominating 89–43 victory over the struggling Panthers (3–11, 1–8 SWAL).
But in the middle of Monday’s lopsided first half, Iowa–Grant senior Isaac Hill was a shining light.
Hill scored 17 of his team-high 19 points in the first half and in the process became just the second boy — and fourth player overall — to score 1,000 career points.
Hill reached the milestone on a pair of free throws with 2:49 left in the first half.
The four-year varsity player now has 1,005 career points, trailing only 2016 IGHS graduate Isaac Anderson (1,418 points) on the Panthers’ all-time scoring list. Olivia Liddicoat (class of 2020) is the IG girls’ all-time leading scorer with 1,634 points. Mary Bunker (1996) also finished her career with 1,370 points.
Hill is averaging a team-high 16.1 points, 4.8 rebounds, 4.2 assists and 1.2 steals per games in 14 games this year for the Panthers.
“Congratulations to Isaac Hill on reaching the 1000 point milestone in his high school career,” said father and IG head coach Ryan Hill. “It is a great accomplishment.”
As for the rest of Monday’s game, freshman Will Murray scored all 17 of his points in the first half, and reigning SWAL Player of the Year senior Carter Lancaster scored 16 of his team-high 18 points in the first half as Darlington (15–4, 10–1) built its 38-point halftime advantage.
Junior Hunter Hardyman also finished with 17 points for the Redbirds, who had 12 players score at least one basket in the route.
Sophomore Alex Popple scored nine points and senior transfer Isaiah Zingg added eight points.
Zingg, who attended Iowa–Grant Elementary School, joined the team over Christmas break when he moved back to the school district from Wisconsin Dells. He has averaged 8 points in his five games with the team.
Iowa–Grant predictably struggled in its return to the court on Saturday.
Coach Ryan Hill’s squad, which last played Jan. 18 against Hillsboro before entering a two-week quaratine, first dropped a 67–46 decision Saturday morning against visiting Fennimore in a game that tipped off at 10:30 a.m.
The Panthers then returned that night and ended up on the short end of a 84–45 beat down courtesy of visiting Mineral Point.
Iowa–Grant was scheduled to return to action Friday at Riverdale (2–14, 0–11), but the game was postponed due to sub-zero temperatures and the Panthers layup was extended to 19 games between games.
Fennimore senior Adam Larson — a Division 1 Southeast Missouri State recruit — scored 20 of his game-high 29 points in the first half as the third-place Golden Eagles (11–4, 8–3) built a commanding 36–10 halftime advantage and never looked back. Sophomore Brady Larson stuffed the stat sheet with 13 points, eight assists, five rebounds, five blocks and four steals, and junior Max Kenney added 10 points and six boards to give Fennimore three players in double figures.
The Panthers kept pace with Fennimore in rebounds, 35–36 and only committed 14 turnovers while forcing 12 themselves, but IG’s shooting was clearly rusty from the long layoff. IG shot just 32.7 percent (18 of 55) compared to 47.5 percent (29 of 61) for the Eagles.
Isaac Hill and junior Reid Lundell scored 12 points each to lead the Panthers, but shot a combined 8 of 27 from the field (29.6 percent). IG also struggled at the free throw line, converting just 7 of 16 (43.8 percent) of their charity stripe attempts.
Hill grabbed a co-team-high six rebounds to match classmate Colin Mewin, and Lundell chipped in four rebounds, four assists and a team-high three steals. Popple added eight points and five rebounds in the game one loss.
The Panthers, playing their second game in eight hours, were no match for the fresh and speedy Pointers later that night.
Point blitzed the Panthers were their up-tempo style and raced out to a 58–23 halftime lead en route to an easy 84–45 victory.
Junior Joah Fillardo scored a team-high 20 points, and senior Liam Stumpf added 19 points for the Pointers (16–4, 7–4). Leyton Bowers added 13 points and senior Dominik McVay chipped in seven points, nine assists, four rebounds and three steals.
Lundell scored 11 points and grabbed six rebounds, and Hill finished with 10 points and three assists to lead the Panthers in the nightcap.
No rest for the weary as the Panthers traveled to fellow SWAL-leader Cuba City (16–1, 9–1), the top-ranked team in Division 4, Tuesday night before traveling to Fennimore tonight and Southwestern Thursday. IG is then scheduled to host three games in a 24-hour period to close the regular season, starting with a make-up game against Riverdale Friday night (7:30 p.m.) before another Saturday morning–night doubleheader against Belmont (10:30 a.m.) and Boscobel (7:30 p.m.).
After all of that, IG will then take Sunday and Monday off before opening the WIAA Division 4 regional playoffs Tuesday night at No. 4 seed Orfordville Parkview (7–10). The winner will advance to face top-seeded Cuba City in a regional semifinal, Friday, Feb. 19.
Fennimore 67, Iowa–Grant 46
(from Saturday, Feb. 6 @ Iowa–Grant)
Fennimore 36 31 — 67
Iowa–Grant 10 36 — 46
Fennimore (11–4, 8–3) — Warren Adam 6, Adam Larson 29, Brady Larson 13, Teagan Napp 2, Max Kenney 10, Mason Adkins 5, Skyler Gieseke 2. Totals — 29 4-8 67.
Iowa–Grant (3–9, 1–6) — Ashton Schmitz 2, Reid Lundell 12, Colin Merwin 4, Isaac Hill 12, Cade Kuhls 2, Isaiah Zingg 4, Zach Kohlenberg 2, Alex Popple 9. Totals — 18-55 7-16 46.
3-point goals — IG: 3-10 (Lundell 2, Hill 1), F: 5 (A. Larson 2, B. Larson 3). Team fouls —F: 17, IG: 16. Fouled out — none.
Mineral Point 84, Iowa–Grant 45
(from Saturday, Feb. 6 @ Iowa–Grant)
Mineral Point 58 26 — 84
Iowa–Grant 23 22 — 45
Mineral Point (16–4, 7–4) — Leyten Bowers 13, Dominik McVay 7, Cameron Wiegman 5, Bodie Bossert 9, Joah Fillardo 20, Liam Stumpf 19, Gabe Sporle 1, Julius Walch 3, Bryce Acherman 4, Ian Keyes 7. Totals —31-63 15-26 84.
Iowa–Grant (3–10, 1–7) — Reid Lundell 11, Colin Merwin 3, Isaiah Laufenberg 2, Isaac Hill 10, Caden Laufenberg 2, Cyle Steffly 2, Isaiah Zingg 7, Zach Kohlenberg 2, Alex Popple 6. Totals — 18-42 8-12 45.
3-point goals — MP: 7-23 (Bowers 2, WIegman 1, Filardo 1, Stumpf 1), IG: 1-5 (Merwin 1). Team fouls — MP: 16, IG: 14. Fouled out — none.
Darlington 89, Iowa–Grant 43
(from Monday, Feb. 8 @ Iowa–Grant)
Darlington 62 27 — 89
Iowa–Grant 24 19 — 43
Darlington (15–4, 10–1) — Caden Rankin 10, Carter Lancaster 18, Curtis Stone 3, Hunter Hardyman 17, Easton Evanstad 2, Brady Long 3, Will Murray 17, Ethan Schuchart 4, Matthew Ruf 5, Carter Fitzsimmons 4, Parker Fitzsimmons 2, Ethan Hendrickson 4. Totals — 35 13-26 89.
Iowa–Grant (3–11, 1–8) — Reid Lundell 3, Isaiah Laufenberg 2, Isaac Hill 19, Skyler Achenbach 2, Isaiah Zingg 8, Alex Popple 9. Totals — 14 15-22 43.
3-point goals — D: 6 (Rankin 1, Hardyman 3, Long 1, Ruf 1), IG: 0. Team fouls — D: 21, IG: 13. Fouled out — none.