WATERLOO — There’s a time to push the tempo and a time to slow things down.
Waterloo East did a little of both Monday as the Trojans earned a 63-57 Mississippi Valley Conference boys’ basketball win over Cedar Rapids Xavier.
The Trojans used their run-and-gun style to build a 37-25 halftime lead.
Things got a little dicey in the third quarter as the patient Saints created turnovers with their press, cut their deficit to 49-43 and took the momentum into the final period.
“I thought we played really well in the first half, but then got into a hurry in the second,” said East coach Steve McGraw. “These kids want to run so bad and go 90 mph all the time, but that can lead to making bad decisions.
“We have to slow it down at times and just execute with the ball. Their press hurt us a little bit and their big guy (Jaylon Moses) hurt us, as well. We just needed to execute things a little better.”
Xavier got within 57-56 early in the fourth quarter before the Trojans got back to basics and slowed the Saints down.
Seniors Ramon Harrington and Tyrese Nickelson came up with big rebounds on defense and turned them into late points as both players went 4-for-4 at the free throw line to close out the win.
“That’s what I like about this team now, we have a lot of guys that can score,” said Nickelson. “We had four guys get double figures tonight and that showed that we have a lot of weapons on this team.”
Nickelson finished with 17 points, freshman Trevion Labeaux chipped in 16, Harrington collected 15 and Tavious Jenkins added 10.
“This team just keeps getting better and better,” said Nickelson. “Every game we have been doing a better job of getting the ball to other guys and not just a few. It most definitely helps me when they get the pressure off me because we have other guys that pick up the scoring.”
The Trojans also picked it up defensively as they held the Saints scoreless over the final 2:24 of the game.
“Free throws were definitely very important at the end,” said McGraw. “It was a good win for us and now we have to play three more games yet this week, with two on the road later this week.
“I tell you what, though, you cannot count them (Saints) out of it, because they are a Class 3A school that has played a lot of tough teams from Class 4A. They are a very good team.”
Wat. East 63, C.R. Xavier 57
CEDAR RAPIDS XAVIER (7-8) — Davis Wagner 5 4-8 14, Jake Beckmann 6 0-0 14, Bryson Bastian 2 1-3 6, Tre’ McCrary 1 0-0 3, Quinn Schulte 1 2-4 4, Jaylon Moses 6 2-4 14, Nick Hansel 1 0-0 2. Totals 22 9-19 57.
WATERLOO EAST (10-6, 7-6) — Tyrese Nickelson 6 5-6 17, Ramon Harrington 4 4-4 15, Tavious Jenkins 5 0-0 10, Trevion Labeaux 8 0-0 16, Davon Higgins 0 0-0 0, Ramir Scott 2 0-1 5, Deavonte Woods 0 0-0 0. Totals 25 9-11 63.
C.R. Xavier 12 13 18 14 — 57
Wat. East 18 19 12 14 — 63
3-point goals — Xavier 4 (Beckmann 2, McCrary, Bastian), East 4 (Harrington 3, Scott). Total fouls — Xavier 17, East 16. Fouled out — Beckmann (CRX).