3 takeaways from Ames boys basketball's 70-66 loss to Waterloo East

The Ames boys basketball team had a tough time containing Waterloo East's Jameel Montgomery Friday night.

Montgomery went off for 33 points to lead the Trojans past the Little Cyclones, 70-66.

"It was tough," said Ames guard Jamison Poe. "We had our bench players come in and try to guard him and it didn't work. We all didn't do enough."

The loss put Ames at 12-6 on the season and the Little Cyclones dropped a half-game behind Waterloo East in the Iowa Alliance Conference North Division standings with a 5-1 conference record. Waterloo East improved to 6-1 atop the conference and 11-8 overall.

Here is what we learned from Ames' setback Friday.

Ames' Chol Yak (42) takes a shot over Waterloo East's center Kewone Jones (11).
Ames' Chol Yak (42) takes a shot over Waterloo East's center Kewone Jones (11).

Jameel Montgomery is a match-up nightmare

Ames simply had no answers for Montgomery.

He took advantage of his 6-foot-4 frame to overpower smaller Ames defenders in the post, especially in the second half. He also found some success on the perimeter, hitting one 3-pointer and slashing to the rim to keep the Little Cyclones honest.

With starting forward Frank Keller out with an ankle injury, Ames rotated 6-4 center Nick Courtney and 6-3 post Chol Yak on Montgomery to start the game. They eventually went to a smaller player, 6-1 guard Braydon Beelner, in the second half.

More:Texas transfer Frank Keller makes a big first impression on the Ames boys basketball team

No one was able to slow the versatile Trojan forward down.

"We called on some new kids tonight," said Ames coach Vance Downs. "Nick started the game and we went to Chol, who's a little longer. I screwed up and let Chol get his third foul in the first half and that put us in a deficit. I thought we would rotate three guys. I thought Bradyn gave a great effort; size just got the best of him."

Kewone Jones also had a big game for Waterloo East inside. He finished with 20 points.

Free throws are a difference maker

When Ames defeated Waterloo East in December, 65-59, to start a nine-game winning streak the Little Cyclones were helped by a poor 9-of-19 showing from the Trojans at the foul line.

That wasn't the case Friday. Waterloo East converted 20-of-31 foul shots in the rematch, including 12-of-16 in the fourth quarter.

"When we beat them the first time up there, they didn't make those free throws," Downs said. "Tonight they made their free throws."

Freshman Will Thomas stepped up with 7 points and three assists for Ames in a 70-66 loss to Waterloo East Friday.
Freshman Will Thomas stepped up with 7 points and three assists for Ames in a 70-66 loss to Waterloo East Friday.

Loss doesn't hurt long-term goals

Even though the Little Cyclones came up short, they are still in the thick of the IAC North title race and in good position heading into the postseason.

Ames has gone 10-2 since a four-game losing streak in December. The Little Cyclones are seeing more inexperienced players like Courtney, Yak, Beelner, Will Thomas and Noah Seibert step up to complement veterans Lucas Lueth, Jalen Wynter, Poe and Keller.

More:Lucas Lueth has his eyes fixed on state. How his leadership is molding Ames into a contender

"I think we have to look at this as a growth period," Downs said. "When Frank is out, some other guys get some minutes and get a little better and hopefully it'll pay off in the long run."

Once Keller gets back in the lineup, the Little Cyclones have the potential to do some damage as they make another run toward the state tournament.

"It was a tough loss, but we're going to keep pushing," Poe said. "We rebounded well and moved the ball well and were communicating well (tonight), but we were missing one piece. We've just got to keep going."

Wynter went for 20 points and six rebounds, Poe had 18 points and three steals and Lueth posted 17 points, seven rebounds and two blocks against Waterloo East. Thomas chipped in 7 points and three assists and Yak added 4 points and rebounds apiece.

This article originally appeared on Ames Tribune: What we learned in Ames boys baksetball's loss to Waterloo East