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Muscatine's Joe Wieskamp

Muscatine's Joe Wieskamp (21) knocks down a jumper during the third quarter of Friday's Class 4A Substate 4 semifinal against Davenport North at MHS Fieldhouse in Muscatine. 

Dave Chesling, Muscatine Journal

MUSCATINE — You can toss aside the individual accolades and upcoming end-of-the-season honors for now.

Joe Wieskamp has a one-track mind, and that's getting his Muscatine boys basketball team to the Iowa state tournament.

For the third consecutive season, Wieskamp has the Muskies on the doorstep. 

Thanks to 34 points and 20 rebounds from Wieskamp, along with a big third-quarter sequence from his supporting cast, Muscatine upended Davenport North 60-55 on Friday in a Class 4A substate semifinal at Muscatine High School.

"We're going to give it everything we have," Wieskamp said. "I've got nothing else I want to accomplish in high school. This has always been my biggest goal."

Muscatine (15-8) faces Linn-Mar, a 55-47 winner over eighth-ranked Pleasant Valley, in a substate final at the U.S. Cellular Center in Cedar Rapids at 6:30 p.m. Tuesday. 

North, meanwhile, saw its season end at 15-8. It was the most wins in a season for the program since 2002.

"We tell our guys it is about leaving a legacy," North coach Joe Ewen said. "You look at some of the three- and four-year guys in our program, and they've taken us to new heights. They've left a standard for the guys coming in behind them."

Muscatine had a little too much.

Battling illness all week, Wieskamp had 18 consecutive points for the Muskies in the middle two quarters to build a 32-25 advantage.

"I knew it was going to be a struggle coming in," the Iowa signee said. "I had to give all I had tonight, couldn't hold anything back because it could have been my last game."

North, spurred by the 3-point shooting of Cory Prather, rallied and took a 34-32 lead on a Keenan Hollingshed basket with 3 minutes left in the third quarter.

Muscatine countered.

Josh Hutton, who hit a shot from beyond halfcourt to end the first quarter, buried a 3-pointer. Jackson Foulk followed with a triple, and Lex Hahn had back-to-back baskets to give Muscatine a five-point advantage.

"That's what I thought was the difference," Ewen said. "Joe got his, but those other guys came up with some big putbacks and 3s that hurt us."

Hutton said that is a must for the Muskies to keep moving forward.

"Every now and then stretches like that help the defense sag off Joe," Hutton said. "That's the key to our offense right there, getting a couple other guys to score."

The Wildcats trimmed the deficit to two points on two occasions in the fourth quarter. The last came at 57-55 with 43.8 seconds left.

Foulk made two free throws to virtually ice it with 36.9 ticks remaining.

"I can't do this alone," Wieskamp said. "Those other guys came up big tonight when we needed them."

VJ Wilmington led North with 13 points, and Max Taylor chipped in 12. The Wildcats never could get comfortable against the Muskies' zone defense. They were 5 of 20 from beyond the arc.

"We struggled to get open shots," Ewen said, "and when we did, we couldn't knock them down."

North lost to Muscatine all three times this season. Wieskamp averaged 34.3 points and 21.7 rebounds in those meetings.

Muscatine lost to PV and Iowa City West each of the past two years in the substate final. This appears to be Muscatine's best opportunity at a breakthrough despite Linn-Mar (13-11) winning its last five and playing a rigorous schedule in the Mississippi Valley Conference.

First, Wieskamp soaked up the ovation and pictures afterward in his last home game.

"It is special," he said. "I'm going to miss this place. I've spent a lot of hours in this gym, a lot of hours by myself. 

"To see the community show up like this and be here with us all season, it has helped us win some of those games down the stretch."


Sports Editor

Prep sports editor, with emphasis on covering the Mississippi Athletic Conference and Iowa area high schools. I've been in sports journalism for 17 years, the last five at the Quad-City Times.