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John Windham had a simple request of his team Tuesday night: Play with effort.

The Muscatine boys basketball team answered the bell, but it still wasn’t enough against a long and athletic Davenport Assumption team. The Knights made 10 shots from beyond the arc and used a dominant third quarter to hand the Muskies a 53-36 home loss.

“I told the guys ‘if nothing else, just go out and give effort,’” Windham said. “They stepped up to that challenge.”

That was evident in the first quarter, as the Muskies used a 2-3 zone to pack the paint against the Knights, who had only made 29 3-pointers on the season in the previous nine games on 26 percent shooting.

It worked early, as Muscatine (0-11, 0-7 MAC) held Davenport Assumption scoreless for nearly five minutes but still led just 2-0.

The Knights (5-5, 4-4 MAC) drilled three shots from beyond the arc to surge out to an 11-7 lead after the opening quarter. Assumption finished the game shooting 40 percent from beyond the arc and 10 of their 18 field goals came from distance.

“I’d rather have (Ray Kotula), who’d only hit eight 3-pointers coming into the game, shoot it up,” Windham said. “On the misses we got rebounds. Defensively this is probably one of our better efforts of the year for the whole game.

“Jake (Thomas) worked his butt off.”

The game stayed close in the second quarter, too, as neither team led by more than eight thanks in large part to Muscatine committing just six turnovers in the opening half. Assumption’s Sean Peeters, who led the team with 14 points, sat the final four minutes with three fouls. Meanwhile, Muscatine sophomore Noah Yahn converted a three-point play to end the half and pull Muscatine within 23-18.

Yahn finished the game with 20 points while fellow sophomore Josh Dieckman added nine but no other Muscatine player scored more than three points as the Muskies finished 11-of-36 from the floor. On the contrary, it was a balanced effort for Assumption, as Ray Kotula scored 11 points, Dylan Peters 10 and Adam Quested added eight.

“We struggle with shooting which makes it tough to run an offense,” Windham said. “Noah had an outstanding game but we got to have somebody step up besides him.

“We need a second offensive threat.”

That was evident in the third quarter as it labored to score and turned the ball over nine times while being outscored 21-8. Assumption led by as many as 20 in the quarter by turning steals into dunks and layups on the other end.

“We still make bad turnovers,” Windham said. “We see where the ball is supposed to go but the guy doesn’t get open or the other guy doesn’t attack the man he’s passing to and we pass right to the defender.”

The deficit was never less than 15 the rest of the way.

Even so, Tuesday’s result was still a step forward for a Muscatine boys basketball team that Windham has often said breaks away from the gameplan when times get tough. The Muskies dared the Knights to beat them from beyond the arc, and even though they did, Windham can live with the result.

“We changed our gameplan for these guys because of their size and our kids bought into what we need to do,” Windham said. “That’s what we need to do to become better is stay with what the coaching staff comes up with and work it through.”

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