The formula for slowing down the Muscatine boys basketball team is pretty straightforward: make Joe Wieskamp pass the ball turn his teammates into shooters.

However, that’s much easier said than done. Most teams can’t keep Wieskamp from getting to the rim after throwing two or three defenders at him on the perimeter.

“It’s a pretty simple maneuver,” Muscatine coach Gary Belger said. “You just have to have the athletes to do it.”

With a few quick perimeter defenders and two six-foot-eight post players patrolling the paint Davenport West proved it had the athletes to take Wieskamp and Muscatine out of its comfort zone.

Wieskamp was held to 24 points on 6-of-17 shooting and he was even held scoreless the entire second quarter as Muscatine fell at home to West 58-48 Friday night to snap its six-game winning streak. 

“The thing is we have two big guys who can guard the basket,” West coach Mark Bigler said. “Defensively we were almost flawless.”

West started out in a man-to-man defense in the first quarter but Wieskamp punished them for 11 points on 3-of-6 shooting. But the Falcons (13-6, 10-6 MAC) switched to a box-and-one defense in the second quarter that changed the game.

“The big thing was they played excellent defense,” Muscatine coach Gary Belger said. “It wasn’t necessarily our poor play, it was their good play. They deserved to win and we didn’t.”

In addition to a box-and-one, West committed an additional defender to Wieskamp every time he ran off a screen, and they guarded him with two and sometimes even three players once he caught the ball. Wieskamp didn’t find any success going to the basket thanks in large part to Brett Erwin and Trey Sampson, the Falcons twin towers.

Even so, the Muskies (13-7, 10-6) still kept the Falcons within arm’s reach for the entire game. Wieskamp only took seven shots in the second and third quarters combined, and Jackson Foulk (3-of-12), Josh Hutton (2-of-7) and Antonio Melendez (1-2) kept the Muskies in the game but didn’t make enough shots to do any more than that.

“Our other people just couldn’t make open shots,” Belger said. “We’ve got some weaknesses and they exploited them.”

The Muskies also had no answer for Sampson, who scored 22 points on the night. Belger planned to play man-to-man with Lex Hahn guarding him but was forced to open the game in a matchup zone because Hahn, who was in a walking boot after the game, got injured before the game. The senior still played but it was clear he was limited.

However, despite all the struggles, Muscatine turned a 10-point third quarter deficit into just three at 39-36 with five minutes left on a steal and layup by Foulk. But West stabilized even though Belger felt his team fouled the right players, the Falcons made their free throws to hand the Muskies a loss.

“The two guys we fouled weren’t good free throw shooters and they made them all,” Belger said. “Now the big concern I have is Tuesday and whether we’re competitive enough to come back and take care of business. We’ll find out what kind of heart we have.”

Davenport West 58, Muscatine 48

Muscatine (13-7, 10-6) – Joe Wieskamp 6-17 9-10 24, Jackson Foulk 3-12 1-4 9, Lex Hahn 3-4 0-0 6, Josh Hutton 2-7 0-0 4, Antonio Melendez 1-2 0-0 3, Bryce Howard 1-2 0-0 2, Cooper Zeck 0-1 0-0 0. Totals: 16-44 10-14 48

West (13-6, 10-6) – Trey Sampson 8-12 6-9 22, Brett Erwin 4-5 6-6 14, Balene Mitchell 3-8 2-2 9, Kenny Clay 1-5 3-4 7, Bailey Garnica 1-2 0-0 3, Zach Trevino 1-1 0-2 3, Aaron Gilliland 0-1 0-0 0. Totals: 17-24 15-21 58

Muscatine;13;8;11;16;-48

West;15;10;14;19;-58

3-point goals: Muscatine 5-18 (Wieskamp 3-9, Foulk 1-7, Melendez 1-2); West 3-10 (Trevino 1-1, Mitchell 1-5, Garnica 1-2, Sampson 0-2). Turnovers: Muscatine 9, West 14

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Sports Reporter