After three-quarters of pretty much dead-even basketball, the Beckman boys finally broke loose in the fourth quarter and defeated a scrappy Maquoketa (2-2) team, 60-54, at home Dec. 15, to remain undefeated for the year (5-0).
The game was anything but pretty. Fouls abounded, shots reeled off the rim, and every possession was a struggle, for both teams.
The game was 12-12 after the first quarter, on the Blazers side due mainly to Logan Goedken, who hit all 10 of his 11 points in that frame, including a three at the buzzer to knot it.
Quarter two repeated the scenario. Padraig Gallagher and Mason White opened with straight threes for an 18-16 lead, negated quickly by Caiden Atienza’s baby hook. The two answered with back-to-back scores, White’s off a soft little jumper in the lane. But the Cardinals converted 4-of-5 free throws to end the half 22-22.
Back to where they started the game, even, the teams matched baskets to begin the second half. With the Cardinals up 29-28, Gallagher drilled a three, followed by White’s and-one for a 34-29 advantage. White’s three upped that to 37-29 before Maquoketa’s Brady Digman hit an off-balance shot from the arc that fell, 37-32. Ryan Burchard got a three-footer to roll in, but Digman bulled his way to a lay-in-plus-one for a 39-35 Blazer lead to end the frame.
It ended up being enough as the Cardinals couldn’t get closer than a basket in the fourth. Connor Becker gave them that score, 39-37, to open, but Jack Gehling stepped back to the arc and sank one, followed by two White free throws, and the lead was 44-37. Two bonus shots from Digman began a string of free throws from both teams. The Blazers converted 11-of-15, the Cardinals 4-of-6.
Coach Michael Molony added, “We entered this game knowing we would be without a big piece of our team due to injury. We talked a lot about the next man in and let’s give everything we have to just get a win. Inevitably we ran into foul trouble on top of that. We talked about battling the whole first half after that happened to just get to halftime.
“We did a great job getting the ball game tied. In the third quarter, we saw another great run and teamed it with big stops. While we saw our turnover numbers creep up, we did enough on the boards to keep Maquoketa to only one shot. I am really proud of the rebounding despite some size disadvantages.
“With our second-half ball movement, we found our outside shooting stroke again. It was an all hands on deck game and everyone that was in did their job.”
Individual Blazer leaders include: scoring — White 20 (two threes), Gallagher 17 (three), Goedken 11 (one), Gehling six(one), Logan Burchard four, Ryan Burchard two; rebounds — Gallagher 12, White eight, Gehling seven, Goedken and Logan Burchard four, Nate Schaefer one; blocks — Goedken and Gallagher one; steals — Gallagher, Schaefer and Goedken two, White one; assists — Goedken four, Gehling and Gallagher two, Schaefer and Ryan Burchard one; team turnovers — 13.
The Blazers traveled to Manchester, Dec. 18, and won 53-41, after leading 24-22 at halftime. They outscored the Hawks 17-5 in the third quarter for the difference in the game.
Molony added, “We knew this was going to be a slugfest and we were lucky that we were able to come into the game full strength after Tuesday. We knew West Delaware was going to throw a shot at us early and we would need to stay consistent and realize that in time we could feel out how they decided to guard us. I thought we did a great job keeping our poise and our seniors, Mason and Jack, picked the spots well when to attack the defense. We had a great run in the second quarter, but kind of let up on the defensive end just before half which tightened the game.
“The big key we talked about at half was stops, then score and we did a great job in the third quarter playing a complete quarter on both ends. We were able to push the lead and force them to guard for long stretches in the fourth, eventually fouling. Our composure on the line was impressive. Both teams really wanted this game which led to sloppiness at times. But I am super proud of our poise when we needed it.”
Individual leaders included: scoring — White 24 (two), Gehling 13 (one), Hermsen seven (one), Gallagher six, Goedken three; rebounds — Gallagher nine, Gehling eight, Goedken and Logan Burcher five, White and Hermsen two; steals — Logan Burchard two, White, Schaefer, Gehling, Hermsen and Gallagher one; Blocks — Hermsen four, Gallagher and White two; assists — Goedken five, White two; team turnovers — 15.