Four nights earlier, Eddyville-Blakesburg-Fremont finished the regular season in style.
On Monday night, Davis County finished E-B-F’s season completely.
Four nights after giving up 92 points to the Rockets in a road loss, the Mustangs had a 35-point defensive improvement in the Class 2A, District 12 opening-round win.
Was it a different gameplan that made the difference for Davis County in a 65-47 win over EBF? Or maybe a different defensive scheme drawn up by head coach Jeff Graves?
According to Mustang senior Park Mikels, it wasn’t the X’s and O’s that made the difference.
“We didn’t really do anything differently then we did on Thursday,” Mikels said. “We just wanted it more.”
Losing 92-71 on Thursday to the Rockets certainly helped Graves in bringing that extra effort out of his team on Monday.
“It’s one thing to lose a regular season game like that, but I told the guys to think about how they’d feel if their season came to an end with a 20-point loss,” Graves said. “They didn’t want to finish the year like that.”
Instead, the extra effort of Davis County turned the tables completely on EBF. After clinching a winning regular season with a runaway win against the Mustangs last Thursday, the Rockets couldn’t find the same level of intensity to match their South Central Conference rivals.
“(Davis County) came out ready to go and we came out way to tentative both offensively and defensively,” EBF head coach Travis Stout said. “I wish I could explain it, but that simply set the tone for the game.”
The 92-point effort for the Rockets on Thursday featured a 2-1 ratio on assists to turnovers. EBF dished out 28 assists while committing just 14 turnovers on the way to a season-best offensive output.
That all changed on Monday. The Rockets came up with just 16 assists and gave up 25 turnovers, 15 of which came off of Mustang steals.
“We played much better team defense,” Mikels said. “We wanted to get into the passing lanes and keep them to look for shots from the outside.”
EBF’s top scorer, Christian Bambrook, did his best to extend his prep career. The senior post presence only missed three shots all night, scoring a game-high 25 points while pulling in 14 rebounds.
If the Mustangs couldn’t shut down Bambrook, they made it more difficult for the Rockets to find him. Bambrook’s 13 field goals attempts were almost all of EBF’s total looks in the paint.
“I think we only allowed about 14 shots in the lane all night, which was something we gave up way too much on Thursday against (EBF),” Graves said. “Bambrook is such a talented player and can move around so well side to side. The key for us was being able to keep the pressure on those players that have to get the ball to him.”
EBF was kept well off their pace right away. The Rockets missed their first eight shots, two free throws and were forced into eight turnovers in the opening six minutes.
While that was going on, Justin Utt came off the bench to provide Davis County with seven first-quarter points as the Mustangs scored the first 11 points of the night.
“Davis County were clearly the more impressive team early on,” Stout said. “It kind of carried into their momentum, which is something we struggled to find.”
Even when EBF started to get their offense going, which was keyed by Bambrook’s 15-point first half, Davis County found a way to quickly answer. Mikels scored nine of his game-high 20 points in the opening half, including a last-minute layup that came after EBF cut a 12-point lead down to 30-23 heading into halftime.
“I think we played a lot more like the team we were midway through the season,” Mikels said after adding 10 rebounds to become the third player in the contest with a double-double. “We played a lot like that when we won seven out of nine games. We played good team basketball both offensively and defensively.”
EBF never got their offensive rhthym going. The Rockets fell behind by as much as 18 early in the third quarter, scored six straight to pull within 12 and gave up a final 14-4 run that lifted Davis County to their largest lead of 59-37.
Trevor Leffler added 12 points and 12 rebounds for his own double-double before fouling out. Both Leffler and Bambrook were among the six EBF seniors that played their final game Monday and finished their Rocket careers with a 12-11 season.
“I feel bad for those guys that gave us some quality teams over the years,” Stout said. “Those guys have nothing to hang their heads about. They brought a conference title to this school during their run. That’s something they’ll always have.”
Davis County, meanwhile, heads to Pella Christian Thursday to meet a familiar postseason foe. The 11-11 Mustangs meet a 17-4 Eagles squad that has won 11 straight games and ended Davis County’s season two years ago.
“It seems like we’ve played them five or six times in the years I’ve been here,” Graves said. “They’re as tough as they’ve ever been, but we’ve really got nothing to lose. If we play like this, we’ll certainly give ourselves a chance to win.”
“We’re going to give it all we’ve got,” Mikels added. “That’s all you can ask for at this point.”
Class 2A, District 12 First Round
Davis County 65, Eddyville-Blakesburg-Fremont 47
EBF 4 19 10 4 — 47
D.C. 15 17 17 16 — 65
EBF (47) — Christian Bambrook 24, Trevor Leffler 12, Jevin Jensen 7, Brandon Plate 2, Christopher Welch 2. Totals 19-56 6-11 47.
3-point goals — 3-19 (Leffler 2-8, Jensen 1-1, Welch 0-1, Plate 0-4, Trevor Swartz 0-5). Fouled out — Leffler. Rebounds — 41 (Bambrook 14, Leffler 12, Jensen 7, Swartz 4, Plate 2, Dakota Shepherd, Welch). Assists — 16 (Swartz 10, Leffler 2, Bambrook, Jensen, Plate, Shepherd). Steals — 5 (Leffler 3, Jensen, Swartz). Blocks — 8 (Bambrook 7, Leffler). Total fouls — 16. Turnovers — 25.
D.C. (65) — Park Mikels 20, Colton Roberts 10, Damen Dixon 9, Justin Utt 9, Calvin Utt 8, Austin Erwine 6, McKane Wells 2, Jacob Jones 1. Totals 23-59 17-23 65.
3-point goals — 2-6 (J. Utt 1-1, Mikels 1-3, Dixon 0-1, Erwine 0-1). Fouled out — C. Utt. Rebounds — 37 (Mikels 10, Co. Roberts 9, J. Utt 7, C. Utt 4, Dixon 3, Erwine 2, Clay Roberts, Wells). Assists — 16 (C. Utt 9, Dixon 4, Mikels 3). Steals — 15 (C. Utt 4, J. Utt 4, Dixon 2, Erwine 2, Mikels 2, Wells). Blocks — 3 (Roberts, C. Utt, Wells). Total fouls — 13. Turnovers — 12.