WAPELLO, Iowa − If last Tuesday's double-overtime loss to Highland was a reminder of how crucial one slip-up can be, Saturday reminded the Wapello boys basketball team (9-1, 7-1) of just how much potential it has.
Determined to get ahead early a night after jumping out to a 45-14 lead against Columbus Community in a 67-32 win, the Indians scorched Wilton (1-11, 0-9) for 30 points in the first quarter Saturday and 26 more in the second while building a 56-20 halftime lead before closing with an 89-38 win.
It was quite the finish to a week that started with the Indians' first loss since getting ousted by West Branch in a district semifinal last February.
"(The loss) just gave us motivation to come out play harder," Trenton Massner said. "We thought we were good enough to win on Tuesday and we didn't.(Saturday's win) was fun while it lasted, but we're going to move on to the next game."
The 89 points were the most Wapello has posted in the past decade as 11 different players scored, including four in double figures.
Massner had 21 on 9-of-11 shooting, four coming on alley-oops that were assisted by Logan Belzer, in his third straight 20-point performance since returning from winter break.
"We screw around in practice sometimes and I just toss them," Belzer said of the alley-oop passes to his 6-foot-2 teammate. "In a game it's usually something we've never practiced before. It's just I see him open and I just throw it anywhere and he just goes and gets it."
Keaton Mitchell added 20 points, while Belzer and Jared Wiley each chipped in 11.
The offensive success started with great ball movement as Wapello dished out 23 team assists, including six from Massner and five from Belzer.
"You got to share the ball," Wapello coach Ken Spielbauer said. "There are too many good players out there, so if you move the ball, it's going to be hard to stop you."
It didn't hurt having 21 offensive rebounds either, creating several second- and third-chance opportunities.
"The bottom line is that's a very, very good team we played tonight, and we're a very inexperienced team," said Wilton coach Mark Patterson, who returned just one starter from last year's team compared to a Wapello team that returned 10 players from a year ago. "... There's nothing wrong with getting beat to an awfully good team, and that's what we played tonight.
"This is a group that Ken's been looking forward to have come through for a long time. He does a great job with them, and we're kind of at the other end of the spectrum right now."
While Wilton lost its 10th straight contest and while it may be tough to recognize it in the lopsided scores, Patterson said he's beginning to see some progress among his inexperienced squad.
Jared Townsend scored 14 points for the Beavers, while Ashton Stoelk added eight and Cole Rabedeaux seven.
"They're starting to understand what needs to happen practice-wise, what needs to happen in a game," Patterson said. "We are (making progress), but we play awful good teams so sometimes it's hard to see. People get focused too much on the score and the margin of the score.
"We're trying to get our kids to focus on what they're doing and the progress they're making."