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Posted On: 02/10/18 12:06 AM
Pleasant Hill — Despite Southeast Polk senior Willie Tunks dropping 23 points — including five 3s — in the first three quarters, Ames was able to end its five game skid and get out of the Rams’ gym with a relatively comfortable eight point win.
Tunks was hitting early and often for Southeast Polk (5-13), and the 6-foot-3 shooting guard even pulled up and tried a 30-footer after a couple deep makes. He’s got the greenest light I’ve ever seen a high school kid have. But Tunks cooled down later in the third quarter and, not coincidentally, that’s when Ames made their run.
The Little Cyclones (8-11) got 11 second half points from standout junior Japannah Kellogg and nine second half points from senior Joe Evans, both of which carried Ames to the third and four quarter wins.
Ames — 13 10 23 20 — 66
SE Polk — 8 18 14 18 — 58
Ames: Joe Evans 17, Japannah Kellogg 13, Makai Muhammad 12, Tyler Carney 12, Cooper Downs 8, Jonah Strawhacker 2, Will Krapfl 1.
Southeast Polk: Willie Tunks 23, Grant Arnold 19, Dominic Caggiano 9, Luke Willaims 3, Daniel Hackbarth 2, Caleb Winecke 2.
Japannah Kellogg, 6’6 SF (Ames)
This long and athletic wing was easily the best prospect on the floor tonight, that’s no surprise when you consider he’s our 14th-ranked 2019. His shooting numbers have been very good this season, he came in with a 48/49/72 shooting line (FG%, 3FG%, FT%), and it’s clear why. His lefty stroke is pure, and he only takes well-advised, timely shots. The offense is slow-paced and it doesn’t necessarily run though him, so it might be hard for some to get a great read on him, but we came away thoroughly impressed tonight.
Willie Tunks, 6’3 SG (SE Polk)
This kid lets it fly from anywhere at anytime, and sometimes he can get red-hot; other times he can be cold. We saw both scenarios tonight. Tunks canned five 3s in the first 18 minutes of game-time, but didn’t connect on one for the next 14 minutes. He was also scoring exceptionally at the rim, proving to have great instincts and creativity with the finish. Small colleges should be giving this kid a look.
Dominic Caggiano, 6’2 G (SE Polk)
We were very interested to see the freshman; it’s not often you see a first year high-school kid starting with a 4A varsity squad. Caggiano doesn’t look like a freshman, but more like a senior, with his strong and athletic build. It’s his great length that gives him the biggest advantage. He uses that length to finish well around the rim, and his jumper looked decent. If he played at top-tier 4A program, he likely wouldn’t start; but he’s still an intriguing prospect, and will almost certainly be among the top-50 when the initial 2021 rankings are released.
Joe Evans, 6’3 F, (Ames)
A football standout, it’s plain to see why Evans enjoys as much success on the gridiron as he does the hardwood, he’s a big boy. Well-built with some decent height, Evans throws his weight around effectively in the paint, and is just quick enough to get by slower big-men who might try and guard him on the perimeter. He was the leading scorer for Ames, and is a guy who just has a knack for getting buckets. It’s not always pretty, but he gets the job done.
Grant Arnold, 6’3 F (SE Polk)
It was a slow start for the versatile Rams forward, but he got cookin’ in the fourth quarter. After a four point first half, where both of his buckets came inside the paint, Arnold scored 15 second half points, including 11 in the fourth while showcasing his ability to hit from outside the paint. Arnold canned three 3s in the fourth quarter alone, and that’s what he’s always been able to do. Small schools should be giving him a look.
Makai Muhammad, 5’10 PG (Ames)
We first got a glimpse of what the quick Ames point guard could do last fall at our Top 250 Expo at Kingdom Hoops. He was one of the better surprises of the event, so it came as no surprise that he earned a starting spot and has flourished as the team’s point guard. He’s got a nice handle and some blow-by ability. He rebounds very well for his height, and he can score when he’s granted the opportunity.
Cooper Downs, 6’3 G/F (Ames)
This sophomore wing shows all the typical traits of a coach’s son. He’s fundamental (see the picture perfect box-outs) and he plays the game with a high IQ. Down is not going to blow you away with athleticism, but will hurt you with his smarts and some decent size. He’s able to play the back of a zone defense and he can handle the ball adeptly on offense. His best skill tonight was his jumper, Downs canned two 3s en route to eight second half points.
Tyler Carney, 6’4 G/F (Ames)
The senior came out red-hot and set the tone for Ames, notching nine of the team’s first 13 points. He was showcasing an array of offensive skills, canning two 3s and getting it done at the rim. He would add another triple in the second quarter for good measure before giving way to Kellogg and Evans, letting them carry the load in the second half. Carney’s 12 first half points were a team-high for the Little Cyclones. With his size and ability to hit for beyond the arc, small colleges should be paying attention.