Garrett Baumhover, Dylan Johnson and Tommy DeSollar all scored in double figures to lead the Western Dubuque boys’ basketball team to a 63-54 come-from-behind victory over Cedar Rapids Washington in their Mississippi Valley Conference clash in Epworth, Jan. 3, but the Bobcats dropped a tough 50-41 loss at Davenport Assumption, Jan. 4.
Even though it ended up being a 1-1 week for the Bobcats, they got a lot more positives from those two games than negatives as this team took a lot of steps forward and proved to their coaches and themselves that they are a much better team than when they entered the holiday break.
“It felt awesome to get that win,” said Baumhover, a junior captain for the Bobcats. “We just started moving the ball better and playing harder defense as we really worked on togetherness. Everyone has the same goal out there because we’re all trying to win the same game. When you have everyone stepping up and making contributions, we are just a lot better basketball team when that happens.”
The Bobcats (2-5/1-4) needed that togetherness when they tipped off against Cedar Rapids Washington in a game that was very physical and tight until the home team went on a 21-8 run over the final 6:41. The game was tied seven times and there had been 16 lead changes, but a three by Baumhover put the Bobcats up 49-48 and gave them the lead for good. Their defense and free throw shooting closed out the game.
The game really started to turn in the third quarter after the Bobcats found themselves down 39-34 with two minutes left in the period. That’s when Logan Southwick stepped onto the court to eat up some minutes while DeSollar rested. While on the floor, Southwick converted a basket in the paint on a pass from Johnson and made two free throws with 6.1 seconds left. He helped his team go into the fourth quarter down just three points, 41-38.
“He played huge for us at a big point in the game,” said Wayne Cusick, head coach of the Bobcats. “We just wanted him to go in there to eat up some minutes, and he comes away with an offensive rebound and four points. We needed those points.”
Baumhover and Johnson combined for 15 points in the fourth quarter. Johnson’s two free throws tied the game at 46-46 and Baumhover’s three made it 49-48 Bobcats.
“Once we got the lead in the fourth quarter, the guys did everything right from there on out,” said Ben Wilson, assistant coach of the Bobcats. “We got to the foul line at the end and we got there with the right people.”
The Bobcats finished the game 16-of-20 from the free throw line, and 8-for-12 in the fourth quarter with Johnson, Ben Bryant and DeSollar being the ones to toe the line over the final eight minutes.
“We ran a ton of set plays, but the guys made the shots. I don’t care if the defense knows what play you are going to run because if you execute it the right way you will still get the shot you want,” said Wilson. “For the most part, I thought we executed our sets the way we wanted to. It helps a lot when you shoot the ball the way we did tonight.”
Another player who helped the Bobcats earn this win and who has had a huge impact on this basketball team is Bryant. The scrappy guard is rounding into a basketball player, but his tough football exterior is something this team needs.
“He goes out there and does all the dirty little things you need to do,” said Cusick about Bryant. “He’s in there slapping at the ball and diving for loose balls.”
“He’s the one guy who knows how to play hard,” chimed in Wilson. “Other guys might think they play hard, but watch him because that’s how you play hard. He gets after it.”
Playing in back-to-back games, the Bobcats put up a fight against undefeated Davenport Assumption as they went into halftime leading 27-20. They managed to increase the lead to 10 points in the third quarter, but couldn’t close this one against the top-ranked team in Class 3A who were playing in their first game since the holiday break.
“Yeah, we definitely ran out of gas,” said Wilson. “We quit boxing out, and we were slow to rotate on their sets. You could tell that they had legs left and we did not late. They are number one for a reason, but it is still disappointing to let this one get away. It is hard to be upset with the kids though as they didn’t quit even being short-handed. They are giving us everything they have.”
WD’s leaders against Cedar Rapids Washington were: points — Baumhover 22, Johnson 19, DeSollar 10, Bryant eight, Southwick four; rebounds — Baumhover five, Bryant, DeSollar and Johnson four, Southwick two, Mitchell Williams one; assists — Baumhover and Johnson three, Ben Bryant, Nick Bryant and Carson Schute two, Michael Kraft and Williams one; steals — Baumhover, Ben Bryant and Johnson three, Nick Bryant two, DeSollar one; blocks — DeSollar one.
Leading WD against Assumption were: points — Johnson 18, Baumhover 13, DeSollar six, Ben Bryant four; rebounds — Baumhover, DeSollar, Kraft and Southwick three, Ben Bryant and Johnson two; assists — Baumhover two, Johnson and Schute one; steals — Ben Bryant two, Baumhover, DeSollar and Johnson one; blocks — Johnson two.