In the aftermath of Friday’s home loss against Davenport West, Muscatine boys basketball coach Gary Belger said he would find out Tuesday what kind of heart and resiliency his team had.
Certainly, Belger has to be pleased with what he saw Tuesday night. The Muskies looked rejuvenated, and they corrected almost everything that went against them on Friday. As a result, Muscatine passed a big test late in the season with flying colors with a 55-41 blowout of Davenport Assumption on senior night.
The Muskies never trailed in the contest and were led by senior Joe Wieskamp’s 32 points. Muscatine hit five shots from beyond the arc, including three in the opening minutes to jump out to an early lead. Wieskamp knocked down the first 3-pointer of the game, and senior Jackson Foulk hit two consecutive shots from beyond the arc to give the Muskies a 9-1 lead in the opening minutes.
“I thought we had a real good start,” Belger said. “We had a good first quarter and defensively we played great in the first half and pretty good in the second half.”
The Muskies patented matchup 2-3 zone worked well most of the night, but it was especially effective early on. Belger said Muscatine tweaked its zone to counter Assumption’s tendency to set screens in the high post and it paid dividends.
Muscatine held Assumption to five first quarter points and 12 in the first half, and the Knights committed six turnovers in that time. They also held Trent Fitzpatrick, Assumption’s leading scorer at 12.6 points per game entering Tuesday, to just three points on 1-for-6 shooting.
“Josh (Hutton) and Tony (Melendez) were really good,” Belger said. “They shut Fitzpatrick down to three points. He’s their key guy, so that that was kind of the name of the game. Our defense got us through.”
Muscatine (14-7, 11-6 MAC) continued to build its lead, even with Wieskamp on the bench. He had to be taken out of the game after an official timeout stopped the game when he got elbowed in the face. Wieskamp immediately walked back to the scorers table, but he wasn’t needed as fellow senior Josh Hutton drilled a contested three-pointer at the buzzer to give Muscatine a 17-5 lead after one.
The second was more of the same, as the Muskies continued to stymie the Knights with their 2-3 zone. Wieskamp did most of the heavy lifting with 12 points in the quarter, and this time it was Antonio Melendez who knocked down a 3-pointer at the buzzer to give Muscatine a 32-12 halftime lead.
Assumption (11-9, 10-7) didn’t go away, and even trimmed the Muscatine lead to 14 on a few occasions. But Wieskamp turned the momentum back in the Muskies favor with a 3-pointer at the third quarter buzzer to give Muscatine a 43-26 lead.
The Muskies maintained that lead throughout the fourth quarter and made their free throws down the stretch to close out one of their best wins of the season.
Muscatine 55, Davenport Assumption 41
Muscatine (14-7, 11-6) – Joe Wieskamp 8-17 12-14 32, Jackson Foulk 3-10 0-0 9, Josh Hutton 1-4 2-2 5, Bryce Howard 1-3 2-2 4, Antonio Melendez 1-2 0-0 3, Tyree Williams 1-2 0-0 2. Totals: 15-38 16-18 55
Assumption (11-9, 10-7) – Ray Thrapp 5-10 4-4 16, Dylan Peeters 4-10 4-4 12, Ray Kotula 1-3 0-0 3, Logan Klemme 0-0 3-4 3, Tyler Fitzpatrick 1-6 0-0 3, Anthony Valainis 1-3 0-1 2, Daniel Powers 1-1 0-0 2. Totals: 13-33 11-13 41.
3-point goals: Muscatine 9-19 (Wieskamp 4, Foulk 3, Hutton, Melendez), Assumption 4-14 (Thrapp 2, Kotula, Fitzpatrick); Turnovers: Muscatine 3, Assumption 9. Fouled out: Muscatine – Lex Hahn, Assumption – Anthony Valainis