Respect is not given. Respect is earned and because of the hard work and dedication put forth by every member of the Western Dubuque boys’ basketball team they are finally being recognized for the team they have become. The Bobcats, now 10th ranked in Class 3A, showed they are worthy as they destroyed Cedar Rapids Xavier, 67-46, in Cedar Rapids, Dec. 15, and Dubuque Senior, 59-50, in Epworth, Dec. 18.

Nick Bryant knocked down three three-pointers on his way to putting up 21 points in the Bobcats’ win over Xavier. Also scoring in double figures was Garrett Baumhover with 17, Dylan Johnson 13 and Carson Schute 11. Tommy DeSollar had five points as the Bobcats took control of this game when they outscored the Saints 19-9 in the second quarter for a 33-21 lead at halftime.

Out of the break the Bobcats were never threatened as they continued to share the basketball and play good team defense.

The Bobcats have seemed to be in control of all of their games from the opening tip, but Dubuque Senior presented a bit of a different problem for the Bobcats. Not only do the Rams play a more physical style of ball, they can also put the ball in the basket. Baumhover’s three-pointer opened the scoring and gave the Bobcats the first lead of the game which they held, 14-11, at the end of the first quarter. However, the Rams started the second quarter on a 7-0 run with baskets by Keegan Steines, Cain McWilliams and a three by Landon Sauser to put Senior up by four, 18-14.

Quickly the Bobcats roared back and, in less than three minutes, outscored the Rams 13-3 to regain control of the game, 27-21. Johnson hit back-to-back threes to start the run and finished it off with a strong move in the paint for two points. Schute added a three-pointer to give the Bobcats a 30-25 lead into halftime.

It was a loose and carefree third quarter for the Bobcats as they took a 42-35 led into the final eight minutes. Another triple by Johnson and a basket in the paint put the Bobcats up 47-35 with five minutes left to play.

The Rams tried to fight back and managed to cut the lead to five as late at 46.1 left to play, but the Bobcats were able to close it out on the free throw line, making 8-of-10 during the final 1:30 to hold on to the win.

“We needed a tough, physical game like this to get better. Now when we’re chewing on them in practice about being tougher in the paint or being stronger with the ball, maybe now they’ll understand why we’re chewing,” said Wayne Cusick, head coach of the Bobcats. “Our guys were just a little tougher in the head tonight and were able to get things done when they needed to get done.”

“This was a big win,” said Johnson. “We haven’t beaten Senior in a long time and over the past couple of years we haven’t been the best team, but that’s over now. We are a different team. It felt good.”

This was also the first game this year that the Bobcats didn’t finish with four scorers in double figures. Johnson led the way with 16 points and Schute had 12, Baumhover and Tommy DeSollar both had nine and Bryant eight.

“We’re happy where we’re at, 5-0. No doubt about it,” said Cusick. “But we’re not satisfied with some of the little mistakes that we continue to make that we gotta continue to drill on to keep making sure the kids understand this is why we do it this way.”

WD’s leaders against Cedar Rapids Xavier were: points — Bryant 21, Baumhover 17, Johnson 13, Schute 11, Tommy DeSollar five; rebounds — Johnson 12, Baumhover six, DeSollar four, Bryant, Andrew Oltmanns and Schute three, Zach Gehl one; assists — Baumhover five, Johnson three, Bryant and DeSollar two, Schute one; steals — Bryant three, Baumhover and DeSollar two, Schute one; blocks — Johnson one.

Leading the Bobcats against Dubuque Senior were: points — Johnson 16, Schute 12, Baumhover and DeSollar nine, Bryant eight, Oltmanns three, Jackson Ingalsbe two; rebounds — Johnson six, Schute five, Baumhover four, Bryant and DeSollar two; assists — Baumhover five, Johnson three, Schute two, Bryant, DeSollar and Oltmanns one; steals — Baumhover and DeSollar two, Johnson and Schute one; blocks — Johnson one.