It was an amazing night for Park Mikels.
But it wasn’t the kind of night he truly wanted.
Mikels had a career night for the Davis County boys basketball team on Friday, pouring in 36 points on 13-23 shooting. He also grabbed 10 rebounds for a double-double to lead the Mustangs in an amazing individual effort.
“It was nice, but I wish we would have won,” Mikels said.
One great night for one Mustang was not enough to overcome another great night for one of the hottest teams in southern Iowa. No. 10 (Class 3A) Centerville got double-figure scoring efforts from four different players, including 23 points from Kolton Gonnerman, to earn their 11th straight win with an 82-72 South Central Conference victory over the Mustangs Friday in Bloomfield.
“I think we are more of a balanced team,” Gonnerman said after a 10-19 shooting effort of his own. “Our leading scorers change every game. We’re playing as a team right now and that’s what you want.”
Centerville needed every bit of their balanced contribution to hold off Mikels and the Mustangs on Friday. Though they never trailed, the Big Reds never had a comfortable lead until back-to-back field goals by Gonnerman and a 3-point play by Logan Dabney put Centerville up 13 with four minutes to go.
“I thought our kids held their composure very well,” Centerville head coach Matt Kruzich said. “We knew Mikels was going to be a scoring factor, but we just wanted to build a lead and hold on to it until the end.”
It was a far cry from their previous meeting in Centerville back in December, when the Big Reds rolled to an 83-40 win over the Mustangs.
“We struggled early in the year and when we played them the first time, it was a running clock,” Davis County head coach Jeff Graves said after just the second loss for his team in their last nine games. “I’ll give the boys credit. Nobody panicked. Nobody bellied up. The guys worked hard in practice and have really improved.”
Kruzich echoed those sentiments.
“Coach Graves has done a great job with that team,” Kruzich said. “We beat them by 40 last month, and this time they were a team to be reckoned with. They were well prepared and ready to go.”
Still, Centerville attempted to pull away early against the Mustangs by scoring 11 of the first 15 points. Mikels and Austin Erwine, however, helped bring Davis County back into the game with 19 first-half points.
The Mustangs got as close as two late in the first quarter before a Garret Faris 3-pointer opened Centerville’s lead to 18-13 after one quarter. Faris and Gonnerman each poured in 11 points in the opening half as the Big Reds gradually opened a 10-point lead.
But Faris eventually fouled out and Dabney also battled foul difficulty despite a 14-point, 14-rebound double-double. Still, the Big Reds found ways to hold off any Davis County charges thanks to Gonnerman’s play and a 17-point, eight-rebound, seven-assist night from Michael Starcevich.
“It’s great to know that we don’t have to rely on one or two guys,” Gonnerman said. “Whoever’s having the hot night, that’s who we’ll go to.”
Mikels did his best to give Davis County a come-from-behind victory. The senior scored 22 points in the second half, including the Mustangs’ only two 3-pointers in the fourth quarter.
“The kids aren’t selfish. They know Park needs to shoot to give us a chance to win,” Graves said. “Park’s put in a lot of time and has done a lot of work to make himself that kind of player.”
Davis County (8-7, 3-2) hosts Chariton next Friday looking to finish as high as possible in the SCC. The position at the top has been cornered by the 10th-ranked Big Reds, who moved to 11-1 overall on the season with a perfect 6-0 conference mark.
“We like hearing that term Goliath,” Gonnerman said. “We like being the Goliaths of this conference.”
Centerville hosts Moulton-Udell on Tuesday in non-conference play looking to continue building towards meeting some very lofty goals later this year. Kruzich feels this year’s Big Red team could be one of more special squads he’s coached.
“I’ve had a lot of good players come through my program and a lot of good teams,” Kruzich said. “I really feel like this team could compete with any of our teams we’ve had in the past.”
“We’re looking for the ultimate goal to go to state,” Gonnerman added. “Our main goal is to win conference, move on to districts and make it to Wells Fargo Arena.”
No. 10 (3A) Centerville 82, Davis County 72
Centerville 18 23 20 21 — 82
Davis County 13 20 18 21 — 72
Centerville (82) — Kolton Gonnerman 23, Michael Starcevich 17, Logan Dabney 15, Garrett Faris 12, Payton Busch 10, Levi Sebolt 5. Totals 31-67 17-27 82.
3-point goals — 3-15 (Faris 2-5, Busch 1-7, Gonnerman 0-1, Sebolt 0-1, Starcevich 0-1). Fouled out — Faris. Rebounds — 45 (Dabney 14, Busch 10, Starcevich 8, Faris 6, Gonnerman 5, B.J. Gavigan 2). Assists — 21 (Starcevich 7, Busch 4, Gonnerman 3, Sebolt 3, Dabney 2, Faris 2). Steals — 13 (Busch 3, Sebolt 3, Starcevich 3, Faris 2, Dabney, Gonnerman). Blocks — 3 (Dabney 3). Total fouls — 21. Turnovers — 18.
Davis County (72) — Park Mikels 36, Austin Erwine 14, Calvin Utt 9, Justin Utt 4, Damen Dixon 3, Jacob Jones 3, Tyler Knapp 2, Colton Roberts 1. Totals 26-63 18-32 72.
3-point goals — 2-8 (Erwine 1-2, Mikels 1-2, Jones 0-1, Knapp 0-1, J. Utt 0-2). Fouled out — Roberts. Rebounds — 48 (Mikels 10, Erwine 9, C. Utt 6, Kyle Birchmier 5, Jones 5, J. Utt 4, Wyatt Garmon 2, Knapp 2, Roberts 2, McKane Wells 2, Dixon). Assists — 18 (Dixon 5, Roberts 4, C. Utt 4, Mikels 2, Birchmier, Erwine, Jones). Steals — 7 (Mikels 4, Dixon 2, C. Utt). Blocks — 2 (Mikels 2). Total fouls — 18. Turnovers — 20.