Garrett Baumhover’s buzzer-beating lay-up bounced the right way to get the Bobcat Nation roaring as they celebrated the Western Dubuque boys’ basketball team’s hard-fought, 66-64, win over Waterloo East at Epworth, Feb. 4. The Bobcats struggled in their 62-47 road loss to Cedar Falls, Feb. 7.
“We got a bounce. We got a break. Actually, we made a break,” said Wayne Cusick, head coach of the Bobcats, about the team’s first win in almost three weeks. “We made our own break for a change. We got a stop. We took care of the ball, setup a play and got what we wanted.”
That’s how the end of the game went for the Bobcats, but a lot of things had to happen to get to 16.2 left on the clock when the home team called a timeout to draw up a game-winning play.
It was a free-flowing first quarter with both teams running up and down the court scoring points at will. Western Dubuque tied the game at 7-7, but Waterloo East closed the quarter with four three-pointers to grab a 23-17 lead going into the second quarter.
Two free throws by Baumhover followed by back-to-back baskets by Dylan Johnson and Tommy DeSollar retied the game at 23-23 at the six-minute mark, but again the Trojans closed the half strong on a 15-5 run to hold a 10-point lead at halftime.
Adjustments were made and the Bobcats quickly showed they were ready to fight to get back into this game. Their defensive energy was up and that resulted in a lot of hustle points. Johnson scored four points and DeSollar five in the first four minutes of the second half to cut the lead to 41-37, but then it became the Baumhover show. After being called for a travel, Baumhover came up with a steal and converted it into a coast-to-coast lay-up.
A basket by Brian Keene got the lead back to six points at 45-39, but over the final 2:10 Baumhover drained three of the prettiest three-pointers the Bobcats’ coaching staff has ever seen. The threes catapulted the Bobcats into a 48-45 lead as they outscored Waterloo East 20-7.
Needing to get some production from the Bobcat bench, Cusick looked to his two sophomores to play some vital minutes in this game. Nick Bryant was up to the task as he made two free throws before Baumhover swished another three-pointer to put the Bobcats up by eight points, 53-45, with over seven minutes to play.
Consecutive baskets by Waterloo East cut the lead in half, but with the Bobcats’ offense looking for points, Carson Schute, the other sophomore, calmly stepped up and knocked down a three to get the lead back to seven at 56-49. The Bobcats managed to keep the lead until Keene tied the game at 61 with two minutes left to play.
Baumhover made two free throws and Ben Bryant was one of two at the line to give the Bobcats a 64-63 lead with 38.1 seconds to play and Ramir Scott shooting two free throws. Scott made the first one but missed the second and the score was tied 64-64. Take 21.9 seconds off the clock and you have the Bobcats coming out of the timeout with the play drawn up by Cusick. Baumhover cashed in the two for one special: the Bobcats got the basket and a hard-fought and well-earned win.
“Garrett had a great second half. He took good shots in the flow of the offense and hit nothing but net,” said Cusick. “It’s a good win for us. This is a win that the kids needed and one that they worked hard to get.”
Three nights later, Cedar Falls looked very much like the second-ranked team in Class 4A as they used their physical play to set the tone in this Mississippi Valley Conference match-up. The Bobcats were just unable to keep pace as the Tigers bullied their way to a 33-11 halftime lead. The Bobcats closed in the second half, but it was too little, too late as they lost to Cedar Falls 62-47.
WD’s leaders against Waterloo East were: points — Baumhover 24, Johnson 17, DeSollar 16, Schute three, Nick Bryant and Payton Quagliano two, Ben Bryant and Michael Kraft one; rebounds — Johnson and Quagliano seven, Baumhover three, Nick Bryant and DeSollar two, Ben Bryant, Kraft and Bryce Ploessl one; assists — Johnson five, Baumhover and Quagliano three, Ben Bryant and Kraft two; steals — Baumhover and DeSollar two, Ben Bryant and Schute one; blocks — Johnson two.
Leading WD against Cedar Falls were: points — Baumhover 21, Johnson and Quagliano seven, DeSollar six, Nick Bryant three, Logan Southwick two, Ben Bryant one; rebounds — Johnson nine, Baumhover six, DeSollar and Quagliano four, Ben Bryant two, Ploessl and Southwick one; assists — Baumhover four, Johnson three, Ploessl two, Southwick one; steals — Baumhover and Ben Bryant two, Kraft and Ploessl one; blocks — Mitchell Williams one.