WATERLOO — Waterloo West knew it had to throw everything it had defensively at Dubuque Senior star Carter Stevens.
And for long stretches of time, the Wahawks were able to contain the dynamic, playmaking 5-foot-9 point guard. But eventually, throwing everything it had at defending Stevens got West in trouble.
Stevens made nine of 10 free throws in the fourth quarter as part of a 25-point night as the fourth-ranked Rams held off West for a 59-56 victory Tuesday in Mississippi Valley Conference boys’ basketball action at Siddens Gymnasium.
“If he was 6-foot-2, he would be the best player in the state hands down,” West coach Cliff Berinobis said. “That kid is a good basketball player and I like his effort.”
It was a fantastic, spirited game from start to finish that saw West (4-3) jump out to an early lead before Senior (5-0) surged ahead, then fended off comeback after comeback by the Wahawks.
West got off to its hot start with scoring from all over the place — a 3-pointer by Nick Pepin and hoops by CaRondis Harris-Anderson, Jaden Keller and Kalen Burt — for a 14-8 lead.
But the Wahawks went cold from the field and Stevens got hot, scoring seven points as part of a 13-1 run to end the first quarter. The Wahawks’ drought carried over to the second quarter as the Rams pushed their lead to 25-15.
An Isaiah Johnson layup with 5 minutes, 44 seconds left to half snapped an 0-for-8 spell by West.
“Overall I was happy with our effort,” Berinobis said. “We are a growing team and we played well in stretches, and not as well in others.”
Senior led by eight at halftime, 32-24, but the Wahawks climbed within 39-37. Then, seconds into the fourth quarter, Johnson hit a 3-pointer from the corner and West led for the first time since the 1:45 mark of the first quarter, 40-39.
Harris-Anderson pushed that lead to 42-39 with an elbow jumper, but then Stevens and his ball-handling wizardry took over as Senior went on a 10-0 run, with eight of the 10 points coming from the free throw line.
“He is hard to guard and caused a lot of havoc for us,” Berinobis said. “I think the difference in the game is he knows how to get fouled. It is smart basketball.
“Those are the little things we need to get better at and I’ve talked about before. We are getting better step by step, but the difference between us and them is they’ve been there before, have played in these tight games before and know how to play in them.”
The Rams made 16 of 19 free throws in the fourth and 22 of 28 in the game as West played much of the second half in foul trouble.
Despite that, the Wahawks made it interesting late as Harris-Anderson scored 13 of his 21 in the fourth, including a pair of huge 3-pointers.
West had a chance to send it to overtime, but Kalen Burt’s heave from just across halfcourt at the buzzer missed its mark.
Senior 59, West 56
DUBUQUE SENIOR (5-0) — Carter Stevens 7-14 10-12 25, Nick Timmerman 5-10 5-6 13, Sam Link 1-6 0-0 2, Landon Hermsen 4-7 5-7 13, Marshaun Carroll 1-2 2-2 4, Josiah Harris 0-4 0-1 0, Joseph Kruse 1-2 0-0 2, Jack Vandermillen 0-0 0-0 0. Totals 18-45 22-28 59.
WATERLOO WEST (4-3) — Nick Pepin 4-11 0-0 12, CaRondis Harris-Anderson 8-14 3-4 21, Isaiah Johnson 2-4 2-2 7, Jaden Keller 1-3 0-2 2, Antonio Alexander Jr. 2-5 1-3 5, Kalen Burt 4-6 1-2 9, Jaquon O’Neal 0-1 0-0 0, Mario Wright 0-1 0-0 0, Cade Dodd 0-1 0-0 0. Totals 21-46 7-13 56.
Dub. Senior 21 11 7 20 — 59
Wat. West 15 9 13 19 — 56
3-point goals—Senior 1 (Stevens). West 7 (Pepin 4, Harris-Anderson 2, Johnson). Total fouls—Senior 16, West 25. Fouled out—Keller. Stevens.
SENIOR SOPHS 75, WEST SOPHS 48
SENIOR — Cooper Medinger 12, Max Link 11, Anthony Mclin 1. Brock Medinger 10, DJ Hoskins 1, Daquon Lewis 11, Marcus Moore 2, Cain McWilliams 7, Will McDonnell 8, Walker Wernimont 4, Jim Bonifas 11.
WEST — Michael Robinson Jr. 10, Mondre Lagow 8, Vasilije Novakovic 8, Nate Mabry 5, Caleb Haeg 5, Amar Kuljuhovic 3.