Everyone knows what Bettendorf's DJ Carton is capable of.
But if the Bulldogs are going to make a run at a state title, contributions from the supporting cast likely will be crucial. That was on display Friday night as the Bulldogs took on Davenport North in a Class 4A substate semifinal in Bettendorf's gym.
Carton had 26 points, but senior guards Blake Tyler and Trevor Feller were just as effective, combining for nine 3-pointers and 33 points to help Bettendorf advance with a 68-52 win over the Wildcats.
The top-ranked team in Class 4A will face Dubuque Senior at the U.S. Cellular Center in Cedar Rapids on Tuesday at 6:30 p.m. for the substate championship. The Bulldogs improve their record to 21-1 while North finishes its season at 10-13.
North played hard and was within six points twice early in the second half. But that's when Feller and Tyler made some big plays. A 3-pointer from North's TJ Vesey cut Bettendorf's lead to 37-31 with 6 minutes, 11 seconds remaining in the third quarter. But on the next possession a driving Carton found Feller in the corner, and he drained a 3-pointer to push the lead back to 40-31.
A Quincy Wiseman put-back basket a little more than a minute later again brought North within striking distance at 42-36, but Tyler went way up to rebound a North miss, then came down and got a nice pass from Bulldogs post player Lucas Hayes to nail a 3-pointer to push the lead back to 45-36.
It was the start of a run that ultimately was the difference. Carton had a jumper in the lane and then a steal and dunk. Tyler later added his own short jumper in the lane to push Bettendorf's lead to 51-36 by the later portion of the third quarter. The visitors could not mount a serious challenge the rest of the way.
Feller finished with 15 points, all on 3-pointers while Tyler added 18 points and seven rebounds. Carton chipped in 10 rebounds, five steals and five assists for the winners.
"I have expected that from (Tyler and Feller) all season," Carton said of his teammates. "They have done a great job of filling in their roles as scorers and stepping up to the plate in big spots. I have grown up with them, and I see how hard they work in practice, and I trust them as players in any situation."
Bettendorf coach Curtis Clark said he knew the team's guard play was going to be important against a quick team like North that can create turnovers and easy baskets.
"Against North, you gotta have good guard play and, at times, I thought we played a little bit on our heels," Clark said. "But we made an adjustment, and against that type of pressure, you have to be willing to attack it. Blake did a really nice job of finding those holes (in North's press) and attacking it and getting into the lane."
As for Feller, Clark said the shooting guard has been making timely shots all season.
"Not real surprised about Trevor. When he shoots, everyone in the gym thinks it is going in," Clark said. "He made the biggest 3 of the season to help win the (Mississippi Athletic Conference) title. We trust him a lot and so do his teammates."
Mekki Sisk led North with 12 points and five steals while Vesey finished with 10 points. Jamal Litt contributed nine points and four steals as well for the visitors. The Wildcats lose major contributors in Vesey, Cory Prather and Alec Siefert but could return a solid nucleus in Sisk, Wiseman, Litt and Jayden Houston.
"Twice we cut it to six but could not quite get over the hump," North coach Joe Ewen said. "I loved our group, and we battled all year, and it's just a great group of kids who gave it their all. I am proud as hell of them and I would coach these guys for another 25 games."