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Carson Schute takes a shot during the fourth quarter of Western Dubuque’s 73-63 loss to Cedar Falls in Epworth, Feb. 12.

Dylan Johnson put up 26 points in back-to-back games leading the Western Dubuque boys’ basketball team to a 68-52 victory over Clear Creek-Amana in Epworth, Feb. 9, but he needed more help when the Bobcats fell to Cedar Falls, the top-ranked team in Class 4A, 73-63, Feb. 12, in Epworth.

The Bobcats, the eighth-ranked team in Class 3A, are now 13-4 for the season and firmly in third place of the Mississippi Valley Conference Mississippi Division at 6-4.

It was an up and down the court contest between the Bobcats and Clear Creek-Amana during their non-conference game. Johnson was on fire from the start making 10-of-14 from the floor including 6-of-9 attempts from behind the arc. Garrett Baumhover, Johnson’s running mate for the past three years, chipped in 17 points and six assists. Johnson also took care of cleaning the glass as he pulled down 12 rebounds.

The Bobcats always looked to be in control of this game even though they went into halftime with just a five-point lead, 31-26. Western Dubuque played just enough defense to slow down the Clippers as they struggled to keep up with the offensive efficient Bobcats, hot from all over the floor. They outscored Clear Creek-Amana 37-26 to earn the win. Western Dubuque ended the game making eight of 18 from three, 16 of 31 from the floor and 12 of 15 from the free throw line.

“We did a really nice job pushing the ball, swinging it side to side, doing all the little things that makes our offense so tough to stop,” said Ben Wilson, Bobcats’ assistant coach. “It all starts with Garrett and Dylan. That’s the product of two guys who know each other so well on the basketball court. They know each other so well and know where each other will be on the court when they want to get the ball to each other. It’s those two guys leading the charge.

“Everyone plays hard. They understand their roles and they do what they are supposed to do to get wins.”

It was another exciting battle with a highly-ranked Class 4A opponent when the Bobcats hosted Cedar Falls.

Johnson swished a three-pointer the first time he touched the ball and Baumhover’s nifty move in the lane gave the Bobcats a 5-4 lead with over six minutes to play in the first quarter. That would be the time the Bobcats held the lead as Landon Wolf’s three started a 16-5 run that who closed out the opening quarter up 20-10.

Johnson made another three to start the second quarter as the Bobcats settled in and showed that they could play with Cedar Falls. The Tigers pushed the lead to 11, 33-22, with less than a minute to play in the first half, but Baumhover’s bucket in the paint before the buzzer cut that lead to nine.

In the second half, the Tigers outscored Western Dubuque 27-15 in the third quarter and started the fourth quarter on a 6-1 run as they grew the lead to 66-40.

During the final 5:49, Western Dubuque outscored Cedar Falls 23-7 and even had the lead down to nine with under 30 seconds to play.

“I told them in the locker room that it’s amazing how good you guys can be if you decide to play the way you are supposed to,” said Wayne Cusick, head coach of the Bobcats. “We changed our defense to try to speed them up a little bit and it worked.”

The Bobcats’ defense definitely proved the spark that started their comeback. They were jumping passing lanes, worked hard on the defensive glass and that turned into some easy scoring opportunities.

“We weren’t happy with how we were playing and we wanted to make up for it so we really increased our energy and got things going,” said Baumhover. “Dylan and I have been playing varsity for the past three years and the success is coming. We’re having a lot of fun out there.”

“Overall I was proud of the guys. Proud of their effort, but losing sucks. We came into this game playing to win,” said Cusick. “I thought we did that for two and a half quarters. We had a couple of lapses and you can’t do that against a good team like Cedar Falls. However, bottom line, we are going to be better because of this game.”

The Bobcats’ leaders against Clear Creek-Amana were: points —Johnson 26, Baumhover 17, Tommy DeSollar, Andrew Oltmanns and Carson Schute seven, Nick Bryant three, Jayden Siegert one; rebounds — Johnson 12, Bryant and DeSollar four, Baumhover and Oltmanns three, Siegert two, Isaac Lenstra and Schute one; assists — Bryant six, Baumhover five, Johnson and Oltmanns two, DeSollar and Schute one; steals — Bryant and DeSollar two, Oltmanns one; blocks — Bryant three.

Leading WD against Cedar Falls were: points — Johnson 26, Baumhover 15, Bryant 12, Schute seven, Oltmanns three; rebounds — Johnson nine, Oltmanns four, Baumhover, Bryant and Schute three, DeSollar two, Ingalsbe one; assists — Baumhover eight, Oltmanns four, Bryant and DeSollar one; steals — Schute two, Baumhover, Bryant, Ingalsbe and Johnson one; blocks — Johnson one.