EPWORTH — The original guess was Grinnell. The answer was (gulp) Davenport Assumption.
After his team’s win over Vinton-Shellsburg in last week’s Class 3A substate final, Western Dubuque boys’ basketball coach Dennis Geraghty was asked what kind of seed he figured his Bobcats would get at this week’s state tournament and who he figured its quarterfinal opponent would be. Geraghty got the seed correct (fourth) but an upset in another substate final changed the first-round opponent to Assumption.
That’s the same Assumption that has won 17 straight games and which swept through the otherwise-4A Mississippi Athletic Conference. No offense to Grinnell, but WD seems to have gotten hosed on this deal.
“Once you get there, everybody is pretty damn good,” Geraghty said. “But we aren’t going to pay attention to that. I’m trying to convince the guys that. Just go down there and play Bobcat basketball.”
That’s worked thus far. Western Dubuque (22-2) has a 16-game win streak, which isn’t too shabby.
It played three Class 4A teams in the regular season and beat them all. On paper, this matchup is a tossup.
“We’re very similar teams,” Geraghty said. “You look at the stats … they’re incredibly alike.”
The coach pointed out he has five players who were part of WD’s state tournament team in 2010, so nerves shouldn’t be a factor. The Bobcats have a very good guard court in leading scorer T.J. Lake and point guard Logan Pitz.
“I’d say our defense is our constant,” Pitz said. That’s the thing we’re known for. That’s what’s worked out this year. When we’ve needed stops, we’ve gotten them.”
There’s one defensive matchup that has Geraghty concerned, however, and that’s Assumption’s leading scorer Billy Daniel, a 6-foot-5 junior.
“He’s going to be a load for us,” Geraghty said.
This is a loaded 3A field overall. Defending 3A champ Sioux City Heelan is the eighth seed, for instance.
You could make a serious case for any of the eight teams playing at Wells Fargo Arena this week. That includes Western Dubuque.
“Personally, I set two performance goals for this team going into the season,” Gehraghty said. “One was to win the Wamac (East Division) championship, and we did that. The other was to win our first game at the state tournament.”
We’ll see how that one turns out Tuesday.
CLASS 3A QUARTERFINAL
WESTERN DUBUQUE (22-2) vs. DAVENPORT ASSUMPTION (21-3)
When: 6:35 p.m., Tuesday
Where: Wells Fargo Arena, Des Moines
Scouting Report: Western Dubuque is ranked fifth but seeded fourth, Assumption ranked fourth but seeded fifth. Bobcats will try and run in transition behind senior point guard Logan Pitz. Junior guard T.J. Lake isn’t a big guy at 5-foot-11 but produced big numbers (17.4 points per game) this season. How WD defends Assumption junior center Billy Daniel will be key. Daniel leads the Knights in scoring (15.2 points) and rebounding (6.6). Senior guard Billy Finn averages 12.5 points and is the Knights’ top distance shooter. Western Dubuque won the Wamac Conference’ East Division title, sharing it with 2A state tourney participant Mount Vernon. Assumption swept through the otherwise-Class 4A Mississippi Athletic Conference. The Knights have a 17-game win streak, WD a 16-gamer. Should be a fun game.
OTHER GAMES TUESDAY
Class 2A Quarterfinals
Prairie City-Monroe (22-2) vs. Fort Dodge St. Edmond (18-6), 12:15 p.m.
Adel-DeSoto-Minburn (21-3) vs. Clarinda (19-4), 1:45 p.m.
Class 3A Quarterfinals
MOC/Floyd Valley (24-0) vs. Sioux City Heelan (18-6), 3:30 p.m.
Waverly-Shell Rock (23-1) vs. Grinnell (20-4), 8:15 p.m.