MANCHESTER — If the Maquoketa Cardinals are able to win their game Friday night, they will go into the holiday break with nine wins. Or as many as they had all last season.
That’s pretty good.
Class 3A’s second-ranked team has been more than pretty good the first month-plus of the boys’ basketball season. They slugged out a 40-35 win Tuesday night over No. 3 West Delaware in a game that wasn’t necessarily state tournament quality, though definitely state tournament intense.
“A lot of energy from the fans,” said Maquoketa’s Abe Becker. “A good atmosphere on both sides.”
This one belonged on nearby Brown Field, WD’s football stadium, considering the physical nature of the play.
Maquoketa was doing everything it could to slow down West Delaware big man Derek Krogmann, a preferred walk-on at Northern Iowa. Krogmann and his teammates didn’t back down from that challenge.
Thus, both teams struggled to score. In fact, West Delaware (6-1, 5-1 Wamac Conference) went about 10 minutes between points late in the second quarter and into the third.
Maquoketa (8-0, 7-0) gradually built a 26-12 lead because of that drought.
“We knew it was going to be physical,” said West Delaware Coach Matt Uthoff. “We thought maybe they’d clean it up a little, but we had to adjust, and we didn’t adjust. I thought them being physical with us took us out of our rhythm. It took us about two and a half quarters to adjust to that. Once we did, we got some stuff that we really liked offensively.”
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West Delaware slowly but surely crawled back into it, closing to 37-35 with 2:18 left on a three-point by sophomore guard Kyle Kelley. The Hawks then got a defensive stand, but Gavin Soppe missed a driving shot and Krogmann the putback.
Maquoketa guard Macklin Shanahan clutched up with two huge free throws for a 39-35 lead, redeeming himself for going 1 for 6 prior to that.
“Even if we’re struggling on offense, if we play hard defensively every night, the shots will eventually fall,” said Becker, who led Maquoketa with 14 points, eight under his average. “Playing hard on defense, that’s what’s going to win us games.”
Known for their shooting ability up to this point in the season, the Cardinals went just 33 percent from the field here, 4 of 18 from 3-point land and 6 of 18 from the free-throw line. Yet they found a way.
Krogmann had 15 points and a school-record 23 rebounds for West Delaware, with Kelley adding 11 points. The Hawks shot just 32 percent from the field.
“Early in the year, we were that 3-point shooting team,” said Maquoketa Coach Matt Hartman. "But we said to our kids ‘Do you want to be the team that scores 77 points a game and goes .500, or do you want to be the team that scores 50 and goes to the state tournament?’ They said they wanted to be the team that scores 50, defends and goes to the state tournament, has a chance to do that. That’s our goal. We knew that in our league and in 3A, you’ve got to defend. It’s evident we’re taking that (to heart).”
Maquoketa has 10 seniors on its roster, returning seven of its top eight from a 9-13 team of a season ago.
“It’s like I told our guys after the game. If you had told me we were going to hold Maquoketa to 40 points, they come in averaging 68, I’d take that 100 out of 100 times,” Uthoff said. “The way the flow was, we just could not get any rhythm offensively. They did a great job. Credit Maquoketa’s defense tonight.”
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MAQUOKETA (40): Connor Becker 0-1 0-0 0, Caiden Atienza 2-4 1-4 5, Macklin Shanahan 3-6 3-8 9, Abe Becker 5-19 1-3 14, Kane Kopp 4-8 0-1 9, Nicholas Ehlinger 0-3 0-0 0, Nathan Watters 1-4 1-2 3, Clayton Widel 0-0 0-0 0. Totals 15-45 6-18 40.
WEST DELAWARE (35): Logan Winn 1-2 0-0 2, Gavin Soppe 0-7 0-0 0, Derek Krogmann 7-17 1-4 15, Logan Woellert 1-2 0-0 2, Kyle Kelley 2-9 7-7 11, Mitch Krogmann 1-1 0-0 2, Jamison Smith 0-1 0-0 0, Eric Salow 0-0 0-0 0, Blake DeMoss 1-2 0-0 3. Totals 13-41 8-11 35.
Halftime — Maquoketa 20, West Delaware 12. 3-point goals — Maquoketa 4-18 (A. Becker 3-12, C. Becker 0-1, Ehlinger 0-3), West Delaware 1-10 (Soppe 0-4, D. Krogmann 0-1, Kelley 0-3, DeMoss 1-2). Rebounds — Maquoketa 29 (Shanahan 9, Watters 8), West Delaware 38 (D. Krogmann 23). Total fouls — Maquoketa 15, West Delaware 16. Fouled out — Woellert. Turnovers — Maquoketa 8, West Delaware 17.
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