In a matter of five seconds, Nora Gymnasium went from delirious, to confused, to stunned and silent.
Trailing Waterloo West by three in those moments, Dubuque Senior coach Wendell Eimers signaled for a timeout that he didn’t get. Daquon Lewis dribbled the ball to the rim for a layup at the buzzer, but it wasn’t enough for the Rams in a 51-50 loss to the Wahawks on Tuesday.
“I wanted to call a timeout on the half-court line. I was standing on the court trying to call a timeout,” said Eimers. “We would’ve had the ball with somewhere between 3 and 4 seconds. That’s all I can do. I can’t go out there any further to call a timeout.”
An epic comeback, all for naught. Iowa Class 4A No. 7 Senior (14-3) dropped its second game in a week’s time to another top-10 visitor, third-ranked West (16-2). Last week, the Rams’ couldn’t rally in a five-point loss to Cedar Falls, now ranked second in the state.
Adding salt to the wound in this one was what Eimers called his team’s worst offensive performance of the season. Senior was held to just two points in the first quarter, and went into halftime down, 26-13. Even when the Rams cut their deficit to 35-24 at the close of the third quarter, the offense just seemed lifeless.
“We played maybe two quarters tonight,” Eimers said. “You’re not going to beat a team like Waterloo West unless you play four quarters of basketball.”
The game appeared to be out of reach when Antonio Alexander’s layup gave the Wahawks a 46-31 lead with just over 3 minutes to play. Then, out of seemingly nowhere, Senior started to show life.
Cain McWilliams scored four straight points to spark a 10-point Rams run, bringing them within 46-41 with 1:26 remaining. Caleb Haeg’s layup pushed West back to a three-possession game, 48-41, but fouled out just seconds later with 1:09 left.
Kendrick Watkins-Hogue converted both bonus free throws, and Senior was within 48-43. The Rams put Isaiah Johnson to the line for West, but he missed his one bonus free throw. While Senior turned it over on the following play, the Rams forced the Wahawks into a five-second inbound violation, giving Senior the ball under its own basket with 41.6 seconds left.
With both teams scrambling to chase down several rebounds and loose balls, the rock found its way to McWilliams at the top of the key. He drilled the 3-pointer to bring the Rams within 48-46 with just over 26 seconds to go.
“We did not play very good in the first half and if we want to win games like that, we have to come out and play four quarters,” said McWilliams, who scored seven of his nine points in the fourth quarter.
Following another West turnover, Brock Medinger pushed the ball up the break and converted a layup through a Wahawks foul. The Rams had tied the game, 48-all and threatened to take the lead pending Medinger’s free throw with 9.4 seconds remaining.
Medinger missed the free throw. Senior committed a pair of fouls in the closing seconds, putting Daquavian Walker to the line. He went 3 of 4 to give the Wahawks their three-point cushion with 5.6 seconds left.
Despite having a timeout left, the Rams drove the length of the floor without a pause granted.
Haeg led all scorers with 18 points. Jim Bonifas finished with 12 to lead Senior.