AFTON — East Union took advantage of strong defense in the second and third quarters to prevail 51-45 over Southwest Valley at home in Pride of Iowa action Tuesday.
Mason Gossman led the way with 15 points and with tough interior defense alongside lengthy teammates Gabe Nixon, Casey Walter and Ryan Collins.
Walter scored 14 and Nixon dumped in 13.
The defensive side of the ball won East Union the game, as close shots to the basket went challenged by the Eagles. Southwest Valley shot just 19-of-62 from the floor.
“Any time on the road its tough. Especially here,” Southwest Valley coach Andrew Focht said. “It seems like nobody shoots well it seems like.”
The Eagles led by as many as 20 in the fourth quarter before Southwest Valley made a run late. Grant Maurer came up with a few big buckets late on his way to 19 points.
Walter missed a few shots from deep before heating up with an assist to Gossman and a long 3-pointer toward the end of the first. He knocked down two of three free throws after Chance Cobb was assessed with a technical foul.
He started off the second hot, quickly knocking down two 3-pointers.
“Casey is the hardest working kid on the team,” East Union coach Matt Brown said. “He’s put enough time into his jump shot that he knows the next one is going in.”
The Timberwolves scored just seven points in the third period, as the Eagles repeatedly capitalized on Southwest Valley misses. Kyle Campbell and Trevor Jones helped the Eagles stretch their lead late in the third with buckets as Nixon and Gossman went to work inside and out.
Southwest Valley, bothered much of the night by the officiating and quick whistles that the referees blew to try and take control of the game, finally figured out some scoring strategies and went on its run late, but never got closer than six when Maurer hit a 3-pointer with nine seconds remaining in the game.
‘I think the physical play got into our heads a little bit early and then I don’t know if we ever came out of it,” Focht said. “We had a lot of great looks in the third quarter and couldn’t get it to fall.”
Missed free throws by the Eagles played a part in allowing the Timberwolves to pull semi close.
“We worked on free throws. We will continue to work on free throws,” Matt Brown said with a wry smile.
The gritty nature of the POI continues. Brown noted that all of the games the Eagles have played have been this way.
“They’re all we’ve had so far. Don’t know why it’d be any different going forward,” Brown said.
UP NEXT — East Union (8-3) travels to Murray (10-0) to try and put a blemish on the Mustangs’ record Thursday at 7:45 p.m.
SWV (51) — scoring — Grant Maurer 8 0-3 19, Scott Palmer 3 2-2 8, Jace Petersen 2 0-1 6, Wyatt McAlpin 2 0-1 4, Trenton Drake 1 0-0 2, Chance Cobb 1 0-0 2, Jadon Bohn 1 0-0 2, Chance Tepoel 2. 3-point goals — 5 (Grant Maurer 3, Jace Petersen 2). FG Shooting — 19-62 (31 percent). Rebounds — 35 (Scott Palmer 7, Wyatt McAlpin 7, Chance Cobb 6, Grant Maurer 5). Assists — 9 (Scott Palmer 2, Chance Cobb 2, Jace Petersen 2), Steals — 9 (Grant Maurer 3, Jadon Bohn 2, Wyatt McAlpin 2). Blocks — 3 (Wyatt McAlpin 2 — Team fouls — 33. Fouled out — Chance Cobb, Wyatt McAlpin, Jace Petersen.
EU (45) — scoring — Mason Gossman 15, Casey Walter 14, Gabe Nixon 13, Kyle Campbell 6, Trevor Jones 2, Ryan Collins 1. Totals — 3-point goals 4 — (Casey Walter 3, Gabe Nixon 1). Team fouls — 15. Fouled out— Gabe Nixon.
SW (45) — 10 9 4 22
EU (51) — 11 15 10 15