MESKWAKI SETTLEMENT - Maintaining a high intensity has been the Warriors' motto this season, but a little too much of it threatened to derail their efforts Monday.
Harnessing the right level to ramp up their defense late, Meskwaki staged a 10-0 surge to rally past Cedar Valley Christian for a 59-52 triumph in non-conference play. Royce Timberwolf drilled five treys and finished with 24 points to offset a 32-point effort from the Huskies' Jeremy Strutz.
Things threatened to boil over when the Warriors' Danan Kapayou was whistled for a technical, Meskwaki's second of the game, in the closing moments of the third after a three-point play from Strutz broke a 42-42 tie. Strutz canned one of two technical free throws to stretch their lead to 46-42.
"One thing we try to stress to them is 'Don't be stupid with your intensity,'" said Meskwaki coach Harvey Davenport, whose squad tempered its edge while still staying aggressive to swing the tide.
"That's what they did. They picked it up and they didn't get too carried away."
A Strutz layup stretched the lead to 50-45 with 6:30 to go, before the Warriors picked up their play at the defensive end and on the boards. A pair of steals led to two transition buckets before a putback from Terrell Grant and a tip-in from Timberwolf put the home team ahead 53-50.
Darrion Murray capped the run by knocking down a pair at the line to give the Warriors a five-point edge with a minute remaining.
A bucket from Alex Kenedy brought the Huskies back within three with 47 seconds left, but Strutz fouled out on the ensuing possession and Tyus Grant buried two at charity stripe to push the lead back to five. The Warriors defense held strong before another breakaway basket from Kapayou sealed the deal.
"That's kind of our mantra. I tell them 'give me your best effort for 32 minutes and we'll see how it comes out,'" said Davenport.
Trailing 40-33 midway through the third, the Warriors mounted an 8-0 blitz in just over a minute to grab the lead momentarily before Strutz put the visitors back in front at 42-41. Timberwolf, battling a bit of a shooting slump through the Warriors first two games, connected on one of two from the line with 3:27 left in the third setting up the frantic final 11 minutes.
"He's been cold for a while, but he hit some key ones tonight," said Davenport.
Strutz put together a 10-0 run of his own to open the game and gave the Huskies' a 10-3 advantage 4 minutes in.
After pouring in 21 points in the first 16 minutes, the Warriors were able to slow him down a bit in the second half.
"I think he got tired more than anything," said Davenport.
"Our focus in the second half was to make sure we stay close to him and not give him clean looks like he had in the first half."
The Warriors pounded the glass for nine offensive rebounds in the opening half, which helped them rally back with a 24-8 flurry to lead 27-18 midway through the second frame. Strutz caught fire again with a fadeaway and a three-point play right before the break to give the visitors a 33-30 advantage at intermission.
The Warriors will need that same high intensity when they return to Iowa Star Conference play against No. 9 ranked North Tama (3-0) on the road tonight.
"(This win) reinforced that effort," said Davenport. "If you can put in the effort, maybe good things will come out of it."