Dylan Johnson’s lay-up with 2.6 left on the clock gave the Western Dubuque boys’ basketball team a thrilling, 49-48, come-from-behind win over Wahlert at Epworth, Jan. 5, and Nick Bryant scored 19 points and Carson Schute added 10 to help the Bobcats hold off Linn-Mar, 49-40, at Marion, Jan. 8.

It was another solid week on the hardwood for the Bobcats, the ninth-ranked team in Class 3A, as they improved to 8-1 for the season and are now 2-1 in the Mississippi Valley Conference Mississippi Division.

It was a game of runs for the Bobcats in their second game out of the holiday break as they battled MVC and local foe Dubuque Wahlert. Even though the Bobcats had issues with going on long runs in the first half, they did enough to take a 21-19 lead into halftime.

In the second half, Western Dubuque played more as they did before the break as they ended the third quarter up 41-32, thanks to a 14-4 run. Down 28-27 with four minutes left in the quarter, Bryant knocked down a three to get things going for the Bobcats. Schute drove the baseline for an easy two and then the defense got involved as Garrett Baumhover went coast to coast for an easy two after picking the pocket of a Golden Eagle. Andrew Oltmanns followed that up with a steal and basket and Johnson’s old-fashioned three-point play made it 39-30 Bobcats with over a minute to play. Wahlert scored a basket to pull within seven at 39-32, but while taking the final shot of the quarter Baumhover was fouled with .07 seconds left and made both free throws for the 41-32 lead.

Bryant attacked the basket to start the scoring in the fourth quarter as the Bobcats held their largest lead of the game, up 11 at 43-32, with over seven minutes to play.

Wahlert made a surge and cut the lead to three, 45-42, but a lay-up by Baumhover on an assist by Johnson put the lead back to five, 47-42, with 3:20 left.

Wahlert continued to battle and Nathan Donovan’s basket in the paint put the Golden Eagles up 48-47 with 17 seconds remaining forcing a Bobcat time-out.

“We had to calm ourselves down. Then we looked at the situation we were in and we knew what we had to do,” said Baumhover. “We drew up a good play. Dylan got open and made a great lay-up, then we quickly adjusted our focus to get a stop for the win.”

The Bobcats scrambled all over the court for the final 2.6 seconds and the best look Wahlert could get was a heave on their side of mid-court which fell short.

“The kids responded and got the job done. They executed the play at the end to get us the lead, which was great, but most important was they were aware that there was still time on the clock and that we still had a foul to give. They didn’t celebrate the bucket, they got their tails back and defended,” said Wayne Cusick, head coach. “They were mentally into this game and wanted to leave that court with a win.”

“It was a huge win for us, but we still have a lot of things that we have to fix. I don’t think we played our best, but good teams finish and find a way to win no matter what,” said Baumhover. “That’s what really mattered tonight. We are all playing together and we’re doing it for each other, not for ourselves.”

Knowing it’s a long season and there was another game just around the corner, the Bobcats quickly prepared to play Linn-Mar. According to Cusick, the Lions are very similar to the Bobcats and run a lot of the same offensive sets that they do. However, there is one big difference maker between the two teams and that’s Western Dubuque’s ability to get after it defensively. In this match-up, not only were the Bobcats able to create issues with what Linn-Mar wanted to do offensively but they were able to do that without fouling. That proved to play a role in the outcome of the game as the Bobcats outscored the Lions 12-2 from the free throw line to get the win.

The Bobcats’ defense held Linn-Mar to just five points in the first quarter, which helped them go into halftime up 22-15. In the second half, Linn-Mar was never able to close on the Bobcats as they held on for the 49-40 win.

“We have the target on our back this year. They better accept that and understand that we are going to be challenged each time we take the court from here on out,” said Cusick. “In the past, we have always been the ones having to raise our level of play to match who we are playing. Not this year. This year teams are trying to and wanting to beat us. It’s a change in mindset that these guys have been up to.”

Leading WD against Wahlert were: points — Baumhover 12, Bryant and Johnson 10 points, Oltmanns nine, Tommy DeSollar and Schute four points; rebounds — Baumhover five, Bryant four, Johnson three, DeSollar and Schute two, Jackson Ingalsbe one; assists — Johnson four, Baumhover and Schute three, Bryant two; steals — Baumhover, DeSollar and Oltmans two, Bryant and Johnson one; blocks – Bryant one.

The Bobcats’ leaders against Linn-Mar were: points — Bryant 19, Schute 10, Johnson seven, DeSollar six, Oltmanns four, Baumhover three; rebounds — Bryant six, Johnson four, Schute three, Baumhover two and Oltmanns one; assists — Baumhover six, Bryant three, Johnson, Oltmanns and Schute one; steals — Bryant five, DeSollar and Johnson one; blocks — Johnson two.