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Warriors get their revenge

Meskwaki boys beat North Tama to take lead in Iowa Star’s South Division

T-R PHOTO BY THORN COMPTON - Meskwaki senior Taté Bear (5) puts up a shot over North Tama defender Zach Greiner during the first quarter of the Warriors’ 63-49 win over the Redhawks on Tuesday at Meskwaki Settlement. Bear finished with a game-high 25 points.

MESKWAKI SETTLEMENT — The Iowa Star Conference South Division lead changed hands on Tuesday when the Meskwaki boys basketball team avenged their only in-division loss by beating North Tama.

After falling to the Redhawks 54-51 the last time the two teams faced, the Warriors hit shots early and often on their way to a big 63-49 win over their Iowa Star South foe.

Meskwaki head coach Garrett Bear said his guys were able to stave off a three-game losing streak, considering they had lost to Janesville and Dunkerton in their last two times out, but facing those opponents was part of why they came out on top on Tuesday.

“It was more of our tempo, Janesville and Dunkerton are both aggressive, fast-paced teams and that just carried over to this game,” Bear said. “Dunkerton was non-stop, they just laid it on us at the end and that’s just who they are. We have that capability too, but we have to be more disciplined in what we do.”

It was clear from the opening tip that the Warriors (8-3, 6-1) were looking to push the pace against the Redhawks (8-4, 4-1). After the score was tied at 6-6 midway through the first quarter, Meskwaki closed the quarter on an 18-6 run to take a 24-12 lead into the second quarter.

T-R PHOTO BY THORN COMPTON

By halftime the Warriors were up 36-22, and North Tama head coach Alex Tagtow said his guys looked like they were asleep on the court.

“Credit to them, they played really hard right out of the gate and I think it took us two and a half quarters to really get it going and have that effort, so they kind of came right out with it,” Tagtow said.

Meskwaki used a steady dose of Taté Bear and Emmett Roberts to take such a big lead in the first half. Both Taté and Roberts had nine points in the first quarter, and by halftime Taté was up to 15 while Roberts had 11.

Taté finished with a game-high 25 points, and Garrett Bear said he’s used to seeing his senior scoring leader step up and lead the way.

“He has carried us all season,” Garrett said. “It ain’t no secret, last year he had a bit of a down year because of his ankle injury, but everyone knew coming back he was going to be the focal point of our offense. When you see three people sitting in the lane defending him, that’s hard to put up 20-25 points every night and he still does it. Gotta give him all the credit in the world.”

T-R PHOTO BY THORN COMPTON

Midway through the third quarter the Warriors were in control, up 45-28, but Roberts would pick up his fifth foul before the end of the frame, ending his night early with 15 points.

At the start of the fourth, Meskwaki starting center Tiernan Wanatee also picked up his fifth foul, meaning the Redhawks had an opening with two Warrior starters out of the game.

Before anyone could blink, North Tama cut a 21-point lead down to just 12 at 54-42, and Tagtow said his guys were feeling the momentum.

“It wasn’t a coincidence that those things happened at that time. We were finally playing hard, our effort level was high, and we kind of got in that situation and not by accident,” he said. “We wanted to keep it going, but our problem was we took so long getting there and expended so much energy to get it there that we didn’t have enough at the end to carry it over.”

That was the closest the Redhawks would get to taking the lead, however, as Tagtow said his team just ran out of juice and Meskwaki was able to hang on for the win.

T-R PHOTO BY THORN COMPTON

After Roberts went out, someone else had to step up and take some of the scoring pressure off Taté, and in the fourth quarter Taurice Grant and Noah Seymour combined for nine points to help keep the Warriors out front.

Garrett said his guys have all shown an ability to contribute in big moments when they need to, they just have to work on doing it all the time.

“Emmett had a good game against Janesville where he had 10 or 12 points in the second half and he just kind of put us on his back. Taurice the other night had 34, and we see that every day in practice out of them,” Garrett said. “It was just a matter of us fitting together and being consistent and finding where we fit as an offense. At times we have found that, but at other times it’s like they are just fighting and pulling against each other trying to fit in. We have to realize that the more balanced we are the better we are.

“If Taté’s average goes down because Taurice and Emmett put up 10 and 10, we are fine with that because then we are harder to guard.”

Seymour finished behind Taté and Roberts with 12 points, and Grant followed him with nine for Meskwaki.

Hale Hulme led the Redhawks with 20 points, but next was Ryan McLean, who had 11 points before fouling out with just under four minutes to go. Tagtow said the team has to find a way to have more than just Hulme getting the job done offensively.

“We have to get it by committee, we obviously run a lot through Hale and he does a lot for us but we have to get a little bit from everybody,” Tagtow said. “We’ve lost a couple of games in a row and that’s been a big problem for us, we are not quite getting enough. We get spits and spurts from guys but we have to get more from everybody, it’s not one guy that’s got to do it.”

North Tama will try to end a three-game losing streak on Friday with a home meeting against Colo-NESCO, while Meskwaki next hits the road to take on Collins-Maxwell.

Garrett said his Warriors know their future lies in their hands, but a tough schedule featuring the likes of Gladbrook-Reinbeck, Grand View Christian and Don Bosco remains.

“There are still games on the schedule that we have to look out for,” Garrett said. “We are confident in what we do, there’s no doubt we are going to go try to win every one of those games and it feels good to get this one back.”