CEDAR RAPIDS, Iowa — The Dubuque Hempstead boys’ basketball team was anxious to get back on the court.
The Class 4A sixth-ranked Mustangs had not played since a one-point loss at No. 3 Iowa City West Jan. 7. Weather further delayed Hempstead’s drive to get back in the win column by postponing Friday’s game at Cedar Rapids Prairie to Monday night.
The Mustangs took out their frustrations on Prairie in a convincing manner.
“It is all about learning,” Hempstead Coach Curt Deutsch said after the Mustangs overwhelmed the Hawks, 63-48, in a Mississippi Valley Conference boys’ basketball game. “We had a couple good days of practice. … They were chomping at the bit to get out on the floor tonight and you could see that. I thought we had really good energy from the start.”
Hempstead (8-1, 4-1 MVC) scored the first nine points of the game. After Prairie (6-3, 1-3) responded with an 11-1 surge to claim its only lead of the night at 11-10 early in the second quarter, the Mustangs exploded for 16 straight points on their way to a 37-19 halftime lead. Hempstead started the second half with a 16-3 burst and suddenly the lead was 53-22, its largest of the game.
“Mainly our defense,” Hempstead junior Jamari Smith said. “We focused hard on stops and stopping the offensive scorer from transition points. We just got back on ‘D’ a lot. That was the main reason we stopped them.”
Smith led all scorers with a season-high 22 points, which bumped his average up to 15.5 per contest. Fellow junior Michael Duax added 12 points and is now averaging 21.1 per game, which leads the MVC and is tied for eighth in 4A.
“It is hard to guard two 6-5 wingmen,” Smith said. “I love Michael. I love playing with him. We just get it going on the transition end because we are so tall and we just distribute the ball to our team.”
Sophomore Gabe Burkle scored 16 points for Prairie