CEDAR RAPIDS — It took a couple of years.
That was to be expected. You don’t jump from a Class 3A conference to the best 4A league in the state without some growing pains.
But the Western Dubuque Bobcats have gotten used to the Mississippi Valley Conference, and it’s their opponents who are feeling the pain now.
“It’s a tough conference, and there are a lot of good teams in it,” said WD’s Garrett Baumhover, after his team brushed past Cedar Rapids Jefferson, 61-48, Tuesday night at Jeff. “Those first two years we kind of learned it, got experience from the kind of play it is. We have adjusted, and I think we sit fine with the conference now.”
Western Dubuque (10-1) already has twice as many wins overall as it had last season and in 2018-19 (five each). The Bobcats have beaten six MVC teams this season, as opposed to four last season and three in 2018-19, their first in the league.
Here’s another thing. WD has dropped this season from 4A to 3A, with this tough regular-season schedule only benefiting it when it comes time for the postseason.
Western Dubuque is ranked eighth in 3A.
“Just a good group of kids, especially the seniors,” said Coach Wayne Cusick. “They have come in and put in a lot of extra work. Hard work. The juniors have done a good job following their lead, doing the things that we want to do. We have just been working on kind of changing the mentality of it. We talked about coming into the MVC that there was going to be a learning curve. It’s a different league. I think we’re kind of starting to figure it out.”
Western Dubuque turned a two-point deficit after the first quarter into a 20-point lead in the fourth. Baumhover and 6-foot-6 forward Dylan Johnson had 20 points apiece.
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Johnson is a Morningside commit who has an inside-outside game. WD has versatility and four guys who can legitimately handle the basketball.
“I just think our team chemistry has been the best it has in how many years. I think that helps,” Johnson said. “We all know how each other plays, so that just helps our offense, our defense, our all-around game. We saw it coming over the summer. We put in the work at our open gyms. Now it’s starting to show.”
Caden Schroeder had 13 points for Jefferson (2-9), with Andreas Williams and Carson Blietz adding 11 each. All of Williams’ points came in the first half.
“We have a really close-knit group, and that’s the really big thing,” Baumhover said. “Everybody works hard during practice to make each other better. We’re just putting it together this year.”
WESTERN DUBUQUE (61): Andrew Oltmanns 1-3 3-4 5, Dylan Johnson 6-12 6-6 20, Tommy DeSollar 3-7 0-0 6, Garrett Baumhover 8-14 1-3 20, Nick Bryant 3-9 1-2 10, Carson Schute 0-1 0-0 0, Jackson Ingalsbe 0-0 0-2 0, Zach Gehl 0-0 0-0 0. Totals 21-46 11-15 61.
C.R. JEFFERSON (48): Kaden Haller 1-6 3-7 5, Gunner Myers 1-3 0-0 2, Andreas Williams 4-7 1-2 11, Carson Blietz 4-10 1-1 11, Caden Schroeder 5-9 0-0 13, Dkhai Pope 1-1 0-2 2, Lonny Melvin 0-0 0-0 0, Brayden Kindhart 1-2 0-0 2, Kay’Zure Lewis 1-2 0-0 2. Totals 18-40 5-12 48.
Halftime — Western Dubuque 27, C.R. Jefferson 18. 3-point goals — Western Dubuque 8-22 (Oltmanns 0-1, Johnson 2-5, Baumhover 3-8, Bryant 3-7, Schute 0-1), C.R. Jefferson 7-21 (Haller 0-2, Myers 0-1, Williams 2-4, Blietz 2-6, Schroeder 3-6, Kindhart 0-1, Lewis 0-1). Rebounds — Western Dubuque 33 (Johnson 8), C.R. Jefferson 22 (Haller 5). Total fouls — Western Dubuque 10, C.R. Jefferson 13. Fouled out — None. Turnovers — Western Dubuque 6, C.R. Jefferson 11.
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