BLOOMFIELD — There have been moments this season when it appeared the Davis County boys basketball team might have finally turned a corner.
Friday night, unfortunately, was not one of those nights.
In a game that was very much up in the air for most of the night, the North Mahaska Warhawks found a sudden run that put a damper on Senior Night for the Mustangs. Lane Harmon hit four of the Warhawks 10 makes from 3-point territory, including shot from the corner moments after a deep 3 from the opposite side of the floor by teammate Blake Readshaw.
The triples kicked off a 13-0 run for North Mahaska, the first eight of which capped a 23-point third quarter. The Warhawks outscored Davis County 23-11 in the final 10 minutes of a 67-50 non-conference win that closed out the regular season for both teams, spoiling Senior Night for the Mustangs.
“Until we start playing for a little pride and playing with a little grit, it’s going to be tough for us,” Davis County head boys basketball coach Jamie Cason said. “The way we’re playing right now, to me, is pretty uninspiring.”
The Mustangs head into Class 2A district tournament play with a record of 6-14. Despite being seeded sixth in the six-team Class 2A, District 11 bracket, Davis County opens with a winnable game at Eddyville-Blakesburg-Fremont on Monday night at approximately 8 p.m. The game follows the district’s first tournament contest between Southeast Iowa Superconference South Division rivals Cardinal and Van Buren County at 6:30 p.m.
After losing at home to EBF, 44-38, in the second game of the season, Davis County picked up a thrilling 57-54 win in overtime over the Rockets on Jan. 20. The Mustangs could be heard celebrating the win in the locker room minutes after the final buzzer.
Cason hoped the victory would a true turning point for a program that has struggled to find consistent success in recent years. Heading into the postseason rubber match at EBF on Monday, Cason is hoping his team can find that magic once more in Eddyville.
“We can play with EBF. It’s a good match-up for us,” Cason said. “Right now, we need to get better in a lot of areas, especially on defense.”
Braden Steel led the Warhawks with a double-double, scoring 18 points and grabbing 11 rebounds. North Mahaska never trailed in the second half, securing a winning season with an 11-9 record heading into Class 1A postseason play which begins for the Warhawks against Moravia in Montezuma on Monday night at 6:30 p.m.
Davis County honored senior players Tyler Ball, Dayton Bradley, Riley Heller and Jesse Bonner before the varsity game tipped off on Friday night. All four seniors took flowers up to their parents in the stands, a tradition for Mustang athletes during any Senior Night.
On the court, Davis County jumped out to a quick 6-2 lead on back-to-back 3-point possession. Noah Zmolek scored while being fouled to open the game before Dalton Reeves opened a 22-point night for the Mustangs with a 3-pointer on the ensuing possession.
That would be the largest deficit faced by the Warhawks, who turned the ball over just two times in the entire first half and worked their way in front 17-12 when Nash Smith scored the final five points of the opening quarter. Davis County went back ahead on a go-ahead lay-up by Ivan Garcia midway through the second quarter before Smith followed a tying jumper by teammate Adison Bollman with a steal and a lay-up, part of a 10-point effort, to give the Warhawks the lead for good.
Reeves scored 11 points in each half, including a tough contested lay-up off an inbounds pass with under two minutes left in the third quarter to pull Davis County within 49-44. Readshaw answered with a corner 3 seconds later and capped an 8-0 close to the third quarter with a lay-up at the buzzer to put North Mahaska up 52-39.