By SCOTT JACKSON and ROGER THOMAS
OTTUMWA — It’s always tough to know how motivated a college basketball team will be at this time of the year.
With a two-week holiday break looming following Friday’s contest with Carl Sandburg, it might have been easy for the top-ranked Indian Hills Warriors to be mentally checked out of the Hellyer Student Life Center before physically leaving following the game.
The visiting Chargers (10-4) were not so lucky. Top-ranked IHCC routed the Illinois school 128-68 for its most decisive win of the season yet.
The win sends the Warriors into the holiday break as the top-ranked team in the nation with a perfect 15-0 record, an early Christmas gift for head coach Barret Peery’s squad.
“The goal was to get to 15-0 when we woke up Christmas morning,” Peery said. “We’re breaking up the season into achieving the few different goals at different points. We’ve accomplished this one.”
Indian Hills was never threatened after going on a 12-0 run early in the first half to open up a 21-8 lead on Carl Sandburg. After exchanging 9-0 runs with the Chargers, IHCC rolled out to a 68-37 halftime lead and never looked back.
“You do worry sometimes about the focus of a team in a game like this. We brought the guys in and had a hard practice earlier (on Friday),” Peery said. “I wanted these guys to get a good sweat on.”
There was very little for IHCC fans to sweat about in the second half. The Warriors continued to steamroll its way to a 15th-straight win, shooting over 60 percent from the field (48-78) while doubling up Carl Sandburg at one point 120-60 with just four minutes left in the game.
“Tonight’s a perfect example when a team can get selfish and start keeping the ball for themselves, but our guys didn’t do that,” Peery said. “They continued to share the ball and everyone really worked hard.”
IHCC also got plenty of production in the post with both Akloda Manyang and Malik Dime returning to the floor. The big men hadn’t played at the same time on the floor since the Warriors first road game of the season back on Nov. 25.
Dime, who had been absent since being injured during the Warriors’ trip to Northwest Florida back on Thanksgiving weekend, came back with a vengeance. The freshman from Columbus, Ohio, had 13 points and blocked five shots while a 15-rebound effort from sophomore Majok Deng paced a dominant 71-38 rebounding advantage for Indian Hills.
“I really wanted to get those big guys (Malik and Akloda) to get back sweating again,” Peery said. “I think that was a heck of a week in November on the road. Those wins are looking better and better each day. “
No. 1 IHCC will enjoy its 15-0 start for only a couple of weeks. Indian Hills is back on the floor as the hosts for the Courtside Classic starting on Friday, Jan. 3. IHCC will open 2014 facing Indiana Dabney that night at approximately 7 p.m.
I’m always excited to get the guys a break at this point. We’ll be getting right back at it sooner rather than later,” Peery said.
IHCC’s 128-point effort is the fifth consecutive game in which the Warriors have hit the century mark. Indian Hills saw its scoring average rise to 111.5 points per game, second in the nation only to Texas school Temple’s 119.1 ppg average.
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