Nodaway Valley/O-M boys basketball lost a non-conference game to Madrid Saturday, however they posted conference wins last week against Central Decatur and Southwest Valley, both on the road.
The Wolverines faced adversity at times but rose to the occasion. Now they still find themselves in the conference title hunt.
“Friday last week, we talked about looking ahead to this week and wanting to go 2-1 this week. That’s what we did, and I’m happy with where those were. It keeps us in contention. It’s great for people to sleep on us,” NV/O-M head coach Jeremy Blake said.
The Wolverines led 20-17 at halftime against Madrid. The Tigers grabbed their first lead mid-way through the second quarter and never trailed again. They were up 33-28 and 54-41 after the third period.
While the Tigers never trailed after that point, Nodaway Valley/O-M never went away. Junior guard Dawson Nelson cut the game to 60-54 with 4:07 to go on a tough turnaround fadeaway shot at the free throw line, then senior Blake Lund made a layup that cut the game to three with 2:51 remaining, however that’s as close as the Wolverines would get.
The Tigers utilized good ball handling and a height advantage to keep a slight upper hand in the end.
Senior guard Boston DeVault went 11-for-13 from the free throw line against Central Decatur and scored 29 points. The Wolverines came away with a 63-49 win.
Nelson added 17. Doug Berg led the team with five steals.
Jack Scrivner led Central Decatur with 15 points.
Southwest Valley and Nodaway Valley/O-M went back and forth last Tuesday, but it was the Wolverines who came out ahead with a 50-45 decision.
The Wolverines held a sizeable lead in the third quarter, however the Timberwolves cut the game to four going to the fourth quarter.
DeVault hit a key 3-pointer in the fourth quarter and Nelson went 4-for-4 at the free throw line in the closing seconds to get the win. Roman Keefe hit a 3-pointer from half court at the buzzer, but the game was decided.
“It’s important we got this finish. We’re trying to win conference,” Nelson said after the Southwest Valley win. “We had to finish this one. We were trying to get out in transition and get some fouls called on us, get to the free throw line because we were in the bonus. We tried to push the ball, get in the paint. Every day we have to make three free throws in a row or we have to start running. We try to keep making more and get to our goal. That’s our motivation to make free throws.”
Nelson scored 22 and DeVault 15 for Nodaway Valley/O-M.
“We’ve been hit with the injury bug, but now that we’re getting into the end of January, that’s going to help us. We’ve got some of those guys off the bench who can do some good things for us. When we get those other guys back, it gives some confidence [to the rest of them] so we can make that push in the postseason,” Blake said.
The Wolverines, who are 8-6 overall and 7-2 in the Pride of Iowa Conference, hosted Bedford Tuesday, Jan. 24. The Bulldogs are leading the conference and though the Wolverines played well, Bedford handed them their first conference loss earlier on.
Southeast Warren visits Nodaway Valley/O-M Friday, then the Wolverines visit non-conference Earlham Saturday.
“We’ve got some big games coming up. I feel like our game against Madrid really will prepare us for those games. We still hold the ball in our court as far as the conference goes,” Blake said. “I know what I’m going to get [out of my starters], but what I love is what we’re getting from these other guys. It’s about building their conference. My role [when I played] was to get those rebounds, play defense, get those garbage points. I keep emphasizing with our three top guards that they’ve seen and know what these other guys can do, now keep giving it to them. That builds that confidence in them.”