Matt Fitzpatrick did not mince words in the locker room at halftime Friday with his Class 3A third-ranked Davenport Assumption boys basketball team.
Locked in a tie game with Muscatine, Fitzpatrick voiced his frustration with his team's performance.
"Fitz doesn't really sugarcoat anything," senior Sean Peeters said. "He pretty much let us know we're playing soft, almost middle school basketball. He talked to us about playing hard and grown-man basketball."
Assumption scored the first 21 points of the third quarter en route to a 63-43 Mississippi Athletic Conference win over Muscatine.
Peeters had 15 of his game-high 21 points after halftime. Dayne Hodge, the team's second-leading scorer, hit two 3-pointers in that game-changing surge.
"I challenged them because I thought they were better than that," Fitzpatrick said. "It is a focus thing with our guys, putting together a full 32 minutes and putting together a full practice.
"We obviously played good basketball in stretches, but if we have that type of lull in a substate game or against one of the top teams in the conference, we probably don't win that game."
The Knights (12-2, 8-2 MAC) held the Muskies without a field goal for the first 7 1/2 minutes of the game and led 13-3 after the first quarter.
Muscatine, though, responded with a 21-point second quarter to even the game at halftime.
In particular, Fitzpatrick challenged Peeters and Hodge.
"They're huge parts to our team, but I thought they could be better," Fitzpatrick said. "They had to man up, needed to be better and play the way they can play."
The Knights forced the Muskies (3-12, 3-8) into seven third-quarter turnovers.
"We just came out flat in that third quarter," Muscatine coach John Windham said. "We haven't gotten to the point where we play a team tough for a half and then come out with the attitude we need to do the same thing in the third quarter.
"The day we learn to come out of the locker room and meet the intensity from the other team, we're going to be a very good team."
Senior Jacob Thomas had a season-high 16 points and five rebounds for the Muskies.
Assumption remains two games in back of league-leading North Scott.
"We've come a long way since the start of the season, but we have a really long way to go to reach our potential and play like we can," Peeters said. "Having all five guys connected and playing together as one for all 32 minutes is a big focus."