A jubilant crowd of Beckman students rushed the floor following the boys basketball upset win over Maquoketa Feb. 4, 61-55.
The Cardinals, who were ranked as high as No. 1 and undefeated through Jan. 25 and their loss to Marion, were handed their second loss of the season at the hands of a stifling Beckman defense.
The Blazers (13-5) opened the game ahead, after Luke Goedken swished a three. They built a 16-10 first quarter advantage, getting another long swish from Goedken as well as a basket off a steal. Shawn Deutmeyer contributed two lay-ins, one off a Goedken assist, and both Michael Keegan and Seamus O’Connor contributed to the full team frame.
Then the strength of the Maquoketa five surfaced, with three straight threes to open the second quarter from three different players to establish a 19-18 lead. Keegan stopped the surge with a bunny but it was the lone Blazer tally in the frame and the Cardinals went into the break up 24-20, after another NBA-length trey from Abe Becker.
They relied on that length in the third quarter, scoring four three-balls for their only points. But the Blazers were on a mission. After giving up a 30-22 lead, they reeled off the next nine straight points to edge ahead 31-30. In the run, Keegan hit a basket and trey, O’Connor got a basket-and-one and Tom Jaeger converted a two-footer down among the taller defenders in red uniforms.
The third Cardinal trey of the frame, by Macklin Shanahan, was matched by Keegan and then upped by Jaeger for a 37-33 advantage. Becker hit their fourth of the quarter and Jack Westhoff matched that one. Keegan added a 12-footer in the final minute for a 42-36 Beckman edge.
It was all Blazers for the opening minutes of the fourth, continuing the third-quarter-ending drive. They upped the margin to 14 points, 50-36, on an 8-0 run in the first four minutes. Deutmeyer, Jaeger, Keegan and again Deutmeyer contributed.
Connor Becker drilled the Cardinals’ ninth three of the game to stop that run, answered by free throws from O’Connor. Connor Becker got a basket-and-one to make it 52-42 Blazers, a score upped by one-of-two free throws from Keegan, 53-24. A full-court press turned on by the Cardinals resulted in three straight baskets and a 53-48 difference.
Goedken took a Keegan dish for two to build it back to seven points, 55-48. And Keegan answered a Shanahan basket with a free throw, 56-50, before distributing another assist to Goedken, 58-50, with 48 seconds to go. Abe Becker tried his best to save his team, hitting a basket and trey in the final seconds, but Jaeger calmly answered with free throws and Deutmeyer did likewise on the game’s final point, 61-55.
“Going into the game we knew it would take a total team effort and execution of our game plan against the first-place team in the conference,” said coach Michael Molony. “I thought coming into the game we were one of the few teams that could match up with them due to our quickness across the line-up. We did a great job in both games against them this season, holding them to 50 and 55 points.
“On the offensive side was where we made our biggest strides from game one to game two. We took the ball to the hole to score or found confident shooters from the outside. I have been telling the guys all season this is the kind of team they can be when they put four quarters together of both offensive and defensive execution, and it’s the team we need to be from here on out.
“I was most proud of how we kept battling through when Maquoketa made their run. We never doubted it was our game to win. I can’t thank the fans enough for their support and extra energy and hope to see them the rest of the way.”
The Blazers traveled to Independence Feb. 8 for what turned out to be their last regular season game and defeated the Mustangs 67-61. They broke to a 13-7 first quarter advantage and led 32-27 at halftime. They were still up 50-48 entering the final quarter and hit enough free throws down the stretch to prevail. It didn’t hurt either that Keegan grabbed a steal and dunked it to close the game.
“I was concerned about this game after the emotional win over Maquoketa,” added Molony. “It’s human nature to let down a bit. While we showed some signs of that Friday, we came out of it enough for the win. It was an invaluable lesson in competition for our team: we won’t win by just showing up.
“The good part was with that experience we were forced into another game of late game execution where we had to make plays on both ends and we did. Indee was ready to play and hit some big shots all night, making it a great adversity to face before playoffs. Keeping our composure when it felt like nothing could go right was the key.”
Beckman’s leaders against Maquoketa were: scoring — Keegan 17 (one trey), Goedken 12 (two), Jaeger (one) and Deutmeyer 11, O’Connor seven, Westhoff three (one); rebounds — O’Connor and Deutmeyer six, Keegan five, Jaeger four, Sean Kluesner two, Westhoff one; steals — Keegan three, Goedken and O’Connor one; blocks — Keegan four; assists — Keegan seven, Goedken and Westhoff two, Jaeger and Deutmeyer one.
Leading the Blazers against Independence were: scoring — Keegan 23 (two), Deutmeyer 12, O’Connor 11 (three), Jaeger 10 (one), Westhoff seven, Goedken four; rebounds — Keegan 13, Deutmeyer six, Jaeger and O’Connor three, Kluesner and Westhoff one; steals — Jaeger and Keegan five, O’Connor one; blocks — Keegan five, O’Connor one; assists — Keegan six, Deutmeyer four, Goedken three, Jaeger and Westhoff one.