Garrett Baumhover, Tommy DeSollar and Dylan Johnson combined to score 61 points to help lead the Western Dubuque boys’ basketball team to a 77-59 win over Cedar Rapids Washington at Epworth, Feb. 2. Three days later the Bobcats dropped a hard-fought 76-66 loss to Hempstead at Epworth.

It was an up-tempo affair with the Warriors as both teams were feeling it offensively that night. DeSollar did most of the heavy lifting in the first quarter scoring seven of the Bobcats’ 14 points. He added five more in the second quarter, but Baumhover got hot from outside making two from beyond the arc and scored 10, allowing the Bobcats to go into halftime up by three, 34-31.

One player who was a little silent in the first half was Johnson, so the coaching staff drew up a special play designed to get him the ball in scoring position.

“We ran a set play and he missed the shot, but he responded like we haven’t seen in a long time. He had one heck of a second half,” said Ben Wilson, Bobcats’ assistant coach. “He was really, really good and when he plays like that, that’s when we are really tough to stop.”

The way Johnson responded was by single-handedly outscoring Cedar Rapids 11-2 over a two-minute span. After his first three rattled around the rim and bounced off the glass before going through the net, his next two long-range jumpers hit nothing but net and he finished off the run by pulling down an offensive rebound and putting it back up for an easy two that gave the Bobcats an 11-point lead, 45-34 with 4:30 left in the third.

Baumhover showed off his range by knocking down a three from 10 feet beyond the top of the key, but Johnson wasn’t done as his rim rocking dunk with the clock winding down was the exclamation point to the Bobcats’ impressive 77-59 win over the Warriors.

The Bobcats knew they were going to have their hands full when Hempstead made the trip after being beaten by Western Dubuque, 65-45, back in December. But what the Bobcats weren’t ready for was playing almost the entire first quarter without Johnson on the court.

The whistle was a little tight in the early going of this battle between two ranked teams and it found Johnson for the second time just 51 seconds into the game. However, his teammates stepped up their play to stay in the game. Down 8-0, Baumhover got into the lane to start the comeback. DeSollar hustled his way to a basket. Nick Bryant blistered the net from three and Baumhover sliced his way inside to tie the game at 11-11 with a minute to play. Jamari Smith’s three-pointer put Hempstead up 14-11, but Baumhover’s buzzer-beating fade away jumper made it clear that the Bobcats were not going away.

Every time the Mustangs tried to make some separation in the second quarter, the Bobcats came right back. Hempstead managed to build a six-point lead at 26-20, but a three by Johnson and a lay-up by Johnson cut the lead back to one. The Mustangs closed the half on a 7-4 run to hold a 33-29 lead at halftime. Johnson picked up his third foul with 32.5 seconds in the half.

Playing with no fear, the Bobcats grabbed a 42-41 lead when Bryant made the first of his two free throws. After a defensive stop, Johnson splashed another three-pointer and the lead was up to four, 45-41. Bryant’s three with under 10 seconds in the third gave the Bobcats a 52-49 lead into the fourth quarter.

Hempstead stormed right back and took a 54-52 lead on Michael Duax’s three-point play with 6:56 left in the game.

Later in the quarter, after a basket by DeSollar and two free throws by Andrew Oltmanns, the Bobcats held a 60-56 lead, but Duax took over the game, scoring 10 points during the Mustangs’ 20-6 run to close it out.

“We just had one little stretch where we got careless with the ball,” said Wayne Cusick, head coach of the Bobcats. “Our kids are fighters. The kids did a good job. We have nothing to be upset about. We got beat by a better team tonight. All the credit goes to Hempstead. They are a top-five team in Class 4A and we took them to the brink. The boys gave themselves an opportunity, but it just didn’t work out this time. That’s fine. This one is history. We now need to get ready for our next ball game. Losing sucks, but if we can learn from this loss then we will be fine.”

Leading WD against Cedar Rapids Washington were: points — Baumhover 23, Johnson 22, DeSollar 16, Oltmanns seven, Carson Schute five and Bryant four; rebounds — Johnson 10, DeSollar nine, Baumhover and Oltmanns three, Schute one; assists — DeSollar three, Baumhover, Johnson, Oltmanns and Schute two, Bryant one; steals — Baumhover two, Bryant and Schute one; blocks — Johnson one.

WD’s leaders against Hempstead were: points — Baumhover and Johnson 15, DeSollar 14, Bryant 13, Oltmanns seven, Jackson Ingalsbe two; rebounds — Baumhover seven, DeSollar five, Schute four, Bryant three, Johnson two, Oltmanns one; assists — Baumhover seven, Bryant two, Ingalsbe, Johnson, Oltmanns and Schute one; steals — Bryant two, Schute one; blocks — DeSollar two, Johnson one.