It wasn’t so much about how the Muscatine boys basketball team started Tuesday as it was about how the Muskies finished against Davenport West.
Strong finishes in each of the first three quarters positioned Muscatine to earn a 72-59 Mississippi Athletic Conference victory against the Falcons.
The Muskies scored the final eight points of the first quarter, finished the first half with a 12-2 run and extended an 11-point lead to 51-36 after three quarters to earn the road victory.
Then, Joe Wieskamp finished off a 25-point performance for Muscatine by hitting eight of the 10 free throws he attempted in the final quarter to prevent West from coming any closer than 11 points in the fourth quarter.
“It was a good bounce-back game after (Friday’s loss at) Bettendorf,’’ Wieskamp said. “We needed to come out and play well as a team and we got that done.’’
The Falcons didn’t give the Muskies much of a choice, using a box-and-one defense to make Wieskamp work for the shots he was able to get early in the game.
Muscatine’s Garrett Mueller, Jackson Foulk and Alex Bautista responded, combining for five 3-point baskets in an opening quarter which ended with Wieskamp giving the Muskies a 20-15 lead when he converted a three-point play with one second left in the quarter.
Mueller scored 11 of his 17 points in the quarter, most on open looks from the left corner.
“Mueller, Foulk, those guys got us going. They hit some big shots early and that just let us play,’’ Wieskamp said.
West held a 25-22 lead midway through the second quarter before Wieskamp got loose for a 3-point basket which sparked a run of 12 straight points by Muscatine.
“We did a lot of good things, but the last three minutes of the first half, we lacked some patience on the offensive end, gave up some points in transition and things got away from us a bit there,’’ Falcons coach Mark Bigler said. “It gave them a lead and they held it.’’
Trey Sampson and Brett Erwin led West (2-7, 1-5 MAC) with 18 points apiece and the pair combined for 18 rebounds in an effort complemented by a 13-point game from Kenny Clay.
But, it wasn’t enough to counter the poise coach Gary Belger saw from the Muskies in the fourth quarter.
Muscatine (5-4, 3-3) patiently looked for chances to drive the ball to the basket or to get the ball into the hands of Wieskamp. The result was a 15-of-19 effort at the foul line in the final quarter which helped secure the win.
“We made a lot of good decisions with the ball late in the game and finished strong,’’ Belger said. “It was a good way to end a pretty good night for us. We played a good team game and if we’re going to be successful, it has to be through the way we play as a team.’’