Pleasant Valley seemed to have found an answer, or at least the closest thing to an answer, a year ago to a question that has haunted Muscatine boys basketball opponents for the past four years. How do you contain Joe Wieskamp?
Last season, Wieskamp averaged the fewest amount of points (21) against the Spartans, and his 48.1 field goal percentage was the third worst against any team.
While the Spartans didn’t have an answer Friday night to stopping the 6-foot-6 senior, who torched them for 36 points and 10 rebounds, they did have an answer for the Muskies, defeating them 59-50 at MHS Fieldhouse.
Muscatine has found itself in a bit of a rut since returning from break, falling to Davenport West 51-37 and Davenport Assumption 69-47 before Friday night’s loss.
“I guess the rut, a lot of it’s due to we’re playing some really good teams right now,” Muscatine coach Gary Belger said. “Joe was sick the first game, and then the second game he really wasn’t real healthy then either.
“I thought we played well tonight, I thought Joe had a great game. I thought Josh Hutton handled the ball real well, did a good job. Jose Melendez played excellent defense, gave us a good spark.”
After falling behind 10-3 in the first three minutes of the first quarter, the Muskies began deploying a press that disrupted the tempo and forced several PV turnovers.
“At the beginning of the game, we were very tentative, we weren’t getting our hands up, we weren’t getting out and getting into them at all,” Belger said. “I think our press helped us throughout the game and changing the tempo. We did a good job with that.”
After missing his first two shots of the game, Wieskamp got into a rhythm offensively, scoring 13 of his team’s 16 points in the opening quarter and trimming the Spartans’ lead to just one heading into the second.
The Spartans hit a shot at the buzzer just before halftime to maintain a 28-27 advantage, but Wieskamp already had 22 points for the Muskies.
“I’m feeling a lot better,” said Wieskamp, who scored 20 points in the loss to Assumption on Tuesday. I don’t know if I’m at 100 percent yet, but I’m getting there. I was just trying to be more aggressive tonight, look for my pull-up 3. Try to create a shot for myself, and I think I was able to do that decently, but I can still improve.”
The Muskies started the third quarter on a 9-2 run to take a 36-30 lead, with Lex Hahn, Jose Melendez, Wieskamp, and Josh Hutton all making baskets.
But the offense stalled late as the Spartans went on a 7-0 run in the fourth quarter to regain the lead before icing the game at the free-throw stripe, where they finished 11-for-12.
"We just struggled defensively, had a few lapses, they hit some shots,” Wieskamp said. “And then on the offensive end, we weren’t able to convert. I thought we got some good looks, but they didn’t fall.”
Josh Hutton and Melendez each finished with five points as Muscatine’s second- and third-leading scorers. Hunter Snyder led the Spartans with 19 points.
Muscatine (6-5, 5-4) will be back in action today when it takes on Iowa City High at 3:30 p.m. in Cedar Rapids at the U.S. Cellular Center.