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Western Dubuque’s Hayley Wulfekuhle is surrounded by West defenders during the Bobcats’ 62-60 loss to Waterloo West, in Epworth, Dec. 22.

It isn’t often a team trails by 22 points after one quarter of action and still has an opportunity to win on a last-second shot, but that was the case for the Western Dubuque girls basketball team in a 62-60 loss to Class 5A No. 6 Waterloo West, in Epworth, Dec. 22.

Western Dubuque trailed 26-4 after eight minutes, and 40-21 as the teams went to the halftime break. There are teams that would have cashed it in at that point, but not this young Bobcat team.

“I am extremely proud of them. They have a no-quit mindset,” said coach Amy Ostwinkle. “The biggest thing we talked to them about at halftime was their ability to adjust. The speed of the game was a huge adjustment for these girls. That’s a top 5A team”

West dominated the first half, taking an 11-0 lead and extending the advantage with an up-tempo attack and a big size advantage inside. But a trio of three-point shots from Carson Koerperich, including one off the glass with 15 seconds remaining in the second quarter, gave the Bobcats momentum going to the break. Koerperich led all scorers with a career-high 27 points.

A 15-6 Western Dubuque run in the first four minutes of the third quarter started with a three-pointer from Maddy Maahs and ended with another Koerperich three to get the Bobcats within 11, at 46-35.

The Bobcats managed to frustrate the tall and talented West team with a solid team defensive effort that led to scoring opportunities on the offensive side of the floor.

“We switched to a zone because we weren’t quite getting there and I thought our zone slowed them down,” said Ostwinkle. “We were aggressive on the top of it.”

A fast-break score by Brooklyn Firzlaff followed by another banked-in three-pointer — this time from Maahs — narrowed the gap to 48-40, and it was 50-42 heading to the final eight minutes.

“We were moving the ball well against their zone,” Ostwinkle said. “There wasn’t a lot of dribbling, just movement from side to side.”

Yet another banked-in three-ball from Hailey Wulfekuhle got the Bobcats with five, 50-42, but West regained control and led 59-48 with four minutes to go. Wulfekuhle and Koerperich knocked down three-pointers on the next two Western Dubuque possessions, and when Firzlaff scored in the post with 1:35 remaining, it was a ballgame at 59-56.

“There was no question in our girls’ minds they were going to knock down shots,” Ostwinkle said. “They have so much confidence and it’s just growing and growing every single game. It’s exciting.”

West’s fine guard Hallie Poock — who led her team with 26 points — hit a pair of free throws to put the Wahawks up five, 61-56, before Koerperich scored again to narrow the gap to three with 20 seconds remaining. After a WD timeout, the Bobcats fouled, and when West missed the backside of a one-and-one, Koerperich again drove for a score to make it 62-60 with six seconds remaining.

Poock was fouled when West inbounded the ball, but missed the front end of a one-and-one. After rebounding the miss, the Bobcats had a chance to win, but Koerperich’s three-pointer as time expired just missed.

“It’s not a win, but it feels like a win going into Christmas break,” said Ostwinkle. “It was a fun game.”

Western Dubuque statistics against West: scoring — Koerperich 27, Firzlaff 13, Maahs 10, Wulfekuhle six, Morgan Mescher and Abigail Kluesner two; rebounds — Maahs five, Koerperich four, Firzlaff and Kluesner three and Wulfekuhle one; assists — Koerperich, Maahs and Wulfekuhle one; steals — Maahs two and Koerperich one.