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Warriors grind out season-opening victory over Baxter

T-R PHOTO BY NOAH ROHLFING - Meskwaki guard Osceola Tyon (0) attacks the basket against Baxter’s Cody Damman (23) during the third quarter of Tuesday’s Iowa Star Conference South Division boys basketball game at Meskwaki Settlement.

MESKWAKI SETTLEMENT — The season has just begun, and Meskwak boys’ basketball is not at full strength.

Missing both of their regular starting bigs from last season and missing a transfer guard until after winter break, the Warriors had to dig deep and find the offense for a 49-41 victory over Baxter Tuesday night.

The Warriors (1-0) scored 34 points in the second half and rejuvenated their offense. But in the first half, it was a game of missed opportunities and poor shooting — not just from Meskwaki but from Baxter as well.

Head coach Garrett Bear said this is kind of what he expected given the Warriors’ current roster situation.

“With people missing, I think that’s the way the early games are going, we anticipated that,” Bear said.

Starting at center for the Warriors was senior Bishop Chavez, a transfer from South Tama County who is more of a wing/forward than a big man. Bear said that the team did not provide as much help on defense to Chavez as they should have, leaving him susceptible to foul trouble (he picked up three in the first half and didn’t play in the second half).

Shots weren’t falling for anyone on the Warriors early on. Osceola Tyon led the team with seven points at the half — five of those coming in the final 30 seconds of the first half.

Tyon led the team with 19 points on the night and scored 12 in the second half.

Bear said it was a testament to his ability to not quit when his shot wasn’t falling early on — and an improvement from last season.

“There were times last year where he kinda disappeared when his shot wasn’t there,” Bear said. “Of course, we want him to take the open shots. But also he’s gotta realize, when things aren’t working from outside, he’s got to go inside and just see one go in the basket. That helps a lot for his confidence.”

Scoring 15 points in the first half, the Warriors scored 17 in the third quarter. Eight of those points came from second-half starter Dayvin Guevara, who Bear said the coaching staff has hoped to see a lot of the past couple of years. He added that Guevara will have a spot this year in the rotation as they try to maximize everyone’s ability to help the team.

Late in the game, two threes from Tyon pushed the lead to nine and put the Warriors out of reach.

Senior guard Taurice Grant was playing on a tweaked ankle, but he still gutted out 15 points and played a key part in the win.

It wasn’t the prettiest win. But for a Meskwaki team with very high expectations for this season, getting wins in any way possible until the team is at its full capacity.

“Of course you want to come in here and win by 20, 30 points,” Bear said. “People know who we are, we’re gonna get their best shot and they’re not going to lay down for us. In games like that, the thing you can take away is you gotta build some character.”