Trojan rally comes up short

Western Dubuque outlasts South Tama boys 62-55

T-R PHOTO BY THORN COMPTON • South Tama County senior Gabe Shields (5) flies through the lane while putting up a layup over three West Dubuque defenders during the first quarter of the Trojans home loss to the Bobcats on Friday. Shields led STC with 18 points in the regular-season home finale.

TAMA — Senior Night for the South Tama County boys basketball team featured a big matchup against Western Dubuque on Friday, a game that pitted the leaders of the WaMaC Conference West and East divisions respectively against each other.

Both teams came to play, as the tide shifted back and forth with the Bobcats always holding on just enough to keep a slight edge.

In the end, despite a furious rally by the Trojans in the final two minutes, Western Dubuque walked away the 62-55 winner. Considering his team was down second-leading scorer Sterling Tyon, who was out due to illness, STC head coach Dustin Peska said this was just a battle that neither team deserved to lose.

“It was two comparable teams with us not having Sterling and they were in the same boat missing one of their guards too,” Peska said. “It was two comparable teams and it was competitive the whole game, it just sucks that one team has to lose.”

Even with Tyon out, the Trojans have shown all year that many people can handle the scoring load, and it was senior Gabe Shields’ turn to lead the way, as he finished with 18 points to pace South Tama (13-7). Shields actually went on a personal seven-point run in the final two minutes to reduce the Western Dubuque (14-6) lead to just four points, but he took a hard fall with 20 seconds left on a drive to the basket and wasn’t able to finish the game.

T-R PHOTO BY THORN COMPTON • South Tama County senior Nathan Lasley (12) takes the ball strong to the hoop while Western Dubuque’s Kyle Cleary defends during the second half of the Trojans’ loss at home to the Bobcats on Friday night.

Peska said Shields and the rest of the team fought all the way until the final buzzer, and that’s a quality this team has had all season.

“That’s one thing with these kids, they don’t quit,” Peska said. “They want to keep competing, they want to keep getting better, they want to play the game and I just preach to them all the time to not give up. Play every second, every opportunity you have like it’s your last, and these kids do that.”

Seniors Nathan Lasley and Kaiden Buffalo both showed out in their final regular-season game at home, going for 13 and 11 points respectively. Jordan Lake led the Bobcats with 21 points, followed by fellow guard Sam Goodman with 12.

The Trojans weren’t able to run their usual pressure defensive set in the half court, so they weren’t able to record steals like they typically do, and Peska said that was all due to the play of Lake and Goodman.

“With their guard play, it’s tough. You can’t leave them, you can’t get into the passing lanes, you have to stay on them,” Peska said. “It’s hard to drop and they are just a tough team, that’s why they are leading the other conference in the WaMaC on the other side, so I give hats off to those guys and I think they can do some damage in the postseason.”

To play a team the quality of Western Dubuque as tough as they did without Tyon in the lineup shows that this Trojan team has potential to be dangerous as well, and Peska said the guys do such a good job of filling in for their teammates when necessary.

“That’s what we do, we pick each other up. Other people try to step it up and make the most of their opportunities,” Peska said. “We are going to get healed up here, we have had a lot of sicknesses but we are going to get through this and get healed up and ready for the postseason.”

STC has one game left on the schedule, as they head out to play Benton Community on Tuesday to close out the regular season and finish up WaMaC West play. The Trojans have already secured the regular season title from the WaMaC West, so Peska has the option of resting starters and focusing on the team’s first-round regional playoffs matchup against Vinton-Shellsburg in two weeks, but Peska said he doesn’t want to limp into the playoffs with three straight losses and he thinks Benton will be another good test before turning their attention to the Vikings.

“Tonight and Tuesday night, these are good postseason starters. They are two good teams, and that’s what we want, we want to get that environment and I want the kids to experience it and we are going to learn from it,” Peska said. “Tonight we will learn from it, we will watch film and we will get healed this weekend then go down to Benton and do the same thing. We are going down to win, we will give them our best shot and see what happens and be ready to roll for the postseason.”

The Trojans and Bobcats finish up the regular season on Tuesday night in Benton, starting at 7:30 p.m.

Western Dubuque 62,

South Tama County 55

At Tama

WESTERN DUBUQUE (14-6) — Sam Goodman 4 2-3 12, Jordan Lake 6 4-4 21, Kale Cartee 2 2-4 6, Grant Kelchen 1 4-4 6, Dylan Johnson 4 0-0 8, Kyle Cleary 0 0-0 0, Andrew Welty 1 0-0 3, Alec Wulfekuhle 1 0-0 2, Kyle Lehmann 1 2-4 4. TOTALS 20 14-19 62.

SOUTH TAMA (13-7) — Kaiden Buffalo 4 0-0 11, Justus Ward 2 2-4 6, Gabe Shields 6 5-9 18, Nate Lasley 6 1-1 13, Lane Koch 1 0-0 2, Jake Wilkerson 0 2-2 2, Keith Keahna 1 1-2 3, Shae Betz 0 0-0 0. TOTALS 20 11-18 55.

W. DUBUQUE 16 10 17 19 — 62

SOUTH TAMA 14 10 12 19 — 55

3-Point Goals–WD 8 (Lake 5, Goodman 2, Welty), STC 4 (Buffalo 3, Shields). Total Fouls–WD 19, STC 17. Fouled Out–none.