With so many multi-sport stars on display, Friday night’s boys prep basketball clash between area rivals Dubuque Senior and Western Dubuque figured to be a fun one to watch.
It turned out to be a good one to listen to, as well.
With the sound system on the blink, fans got the full sounds of a physical Mississippi Valley Conference tilt that didn’t lack action.
The Bobcats hung with the Class 4A No. 7 Senior early but the Rams pulled away in the second half for a 68-51 win at Nora Gymnasium to improve to 15-3. WD fell to 5-14.
Senior jumped in front early. The Ram’s smothering defense forced four turnovers in the first 5 minutes, the last two leading to easy transition buckets.
Senior also controlled the paint with 6-foot-5 mountain Jim Bonifas — an Iowa State University football recruit — cleaning the glass and notching a pair of buckets, including a one-handed slam on a back-door cut.
Garrett Baumhover and Dylan Johnson, though buoyed WD’s attack and wouldn’t let the Bobcats fall far behind. Baumhover hit a 3-pointer and a pair of free throws and Johnson buried two treys during an 11-4 Bobcat run.
Johnson’s first long ball gave WD its first lead of the game with 2:18 left in the first.
The Rams’ Sam Akins hit three free throws with no time on the clock after being fouled on a desperation heave from halfcourt as the first quarter clock expired to give Senior a 17-15 lead after one.
Cain McWilliams had a huge second quarter for Senior. The Rams’ football star had 9 points as Senior inched ahead by as many as 9 before taking a 33-26 lead into halftime.
Calvin Harris, WD’s University of Mississippi baseball-bound jack-of-all-trades, made just his second appearance of the season because of a football-season injury, and helped the Bobcats keep things close. Harris scored 9 points on the night, tallied a trio of steals and barely missed a long 3-pointer as time expired in the first half that could have given WD some momentum.
Instead it was Senior that took the momentum and kept it. Max Link, who hit a 3-pointer in the first half, knocked down two more in the third quarter as Senior began to pull away.
Brock Medinger had 6 points in the third for the Rams, who used an 11-2 run to grab their biggest lead, 46-32 heading into the final period.
Senior scored the first 9 points of the fourth and put the game out of reach with a 16-2 run commandeered by McWilliams on the offensive end and Watkins-Hogue, another Senior gridiron hero, on the defensive end.
“Coach (Wendell Eimers) told us that the past few years (WD) would always come back on us when we got ahead,” McWilliams said. “He didn’t want them hanging around so we really wanted to take it to them till the end.”
McWilliams led all players with 16 points. Bonifas added 10 for Senior. Johnson scored a game-high 15 for the Bobcats, who got 13 from Baumhover.
“The cool thing about our team is that we don’t have just one specific guy (scoring) every night,” McWilliams said. “We have a whole team of guys that can score. Whoever’s clicking is clicking.”