(Manning) — The IKM-Manning boys basketball team has shaken off a slow start and is playing some good basketball heading into a tough week.
The Wolves (8-4) started the year 2-0, then suffered three straight losses to AHSTW, Tri-Center and Exira-EHK. Since then, IKM-Manning has wins over Treynor, Missouri Valley, Coon Rapids-Bayard, Audubon, Logan-Magnolia and Riverside.
“Right before Christmas, we got two big wins,” IKM-Manning head coach Keith Wagner said. “We got a big win against Treynor and beat Missouri Valley late. I like the way we’re playing. We’ve played well as a team. That’s what we’re proud of. We’re sharing the ball and playing with great effort.”
IKM-Manning entered the season tasked with replacing last year’s top two scorers. Figuring out their new lineup — while also going against some of the top teams in the Western Iowa Conference — created some challenges.
“We lacked experience early,” Wagner said. “Plus, we played good competition. Sometimes, when you do that, you get beat.”
The Wolves have established some balance offensively. Junior Ross Kusel leads the attack with 13.2 points per game, while Ben Ramsey and Caden Keller average 12.3 and 10.0 points per game.
“When we have success, we have three guys in double figures, sometimes four,” Wagner said. “I think (Ross) is playing with a tremendous amount of confidence. I like his demeanor.”
Reed Hinners (7.7 PPG) and Cooper Irlmeier (6.9 PPG) complete the Wolves’ lineup.
“We’re getting contributions from everybody,” Wagner said. “That’s what you like to see as a coach.”
The offense is well-rounded, but Wagner feels his team’s execution can be smoother.
“There’s time we make some questionable decisions,” Wagner said. “I think we can do better in our half-court execution. We also have to do a better job of attacking a zone defense. We’ve got to keep attacking the basket. That’s what we’ll work on.”
The Wolves have pivotal WIC meetings this week with AHSTW (Tuesday) and Tri-Center (Friday). They also face Underwood (January 23rd).
“The next two weeks are very difficult,” Wagner said. “No matter what, we’ll keep competing. Our goal is to finish strong and see what we can do come tournament time.”
Click below to hear more with Coach Wagner.
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