Unhappy with his team’s effort in the first half, City High boys basketball coach Don Showalter came up with the ideal cure at halftime.
The Little Hawks used a full-court zone press in the third quarter to seize the momentum and the scoring of senior Ladarius Taylor in the fourth quarter to defeat Dubuque Hempstead 49-40 Friday at City High.
“We went to a full-court zone press, and I think it rattled them a little bit,” Showalter said. “We had to do something to give us some energy. I thought we were a little low on energy in the first half. We were a little passive, so we needed something to pick us up a little bit.
“Our full-court zone press did a nice job. It got us moving a little bit and really active.”
Leading 25-21 at halftime, Hempstead scored four points in the third quarter, which ended with City leading 33-29. The Mustangs stayed in the game by way of the 3-point shot, making six as a team — including four in the second quarter — whereas City didn’t make any treys.
Taylor scored the first nine points for City in the fourth quarter and finished with a team-high 16 points. All but two of his points came in the second half. Taylor made each of his last five field-goal attempts to help the Little Hawks improve to 5-3 on the season.
“We keep telling our seniors this is your time,” Showalter said. “And there are times when you have to make plays. And he made some really good plays.”
The 6-foot-1 Taylor was frustrated with his performance in the first half. He only took four shots and made one basket in the first two quarters.
“We had to turn it up because I played bad in the first half,” Taylor said. “Coach kept on saying, ‘Turn up the intensity,’ and that’s what we did.”
Reserve forward JaMarty Hall and reserve guard Gionni Hickman scored only two points apiece for the Little Hawks. But they helped in other ways, especially on defense, where City forced 23 turnovers. Hall made a basket on a baseline drive to give City a 29-28 lead with 2 minutes, 37 seconds left in the third quarter, while Hickman caused fits for the Mustangs with his defensive pressure.
“I thought Gionni Hickman had a great second half,” Showalter said. “He didn’t play in the first half and came in the second half and did a great job.”
Hall’s basket provided some energy, as did his quickness on defense.
“That came at a crucial time,” Showalter said of Hall’s basket. “He just went to the basket hard, and we kept telling shots will go in.”
City made a 5-of-6 free throws in the final 44.4 seconds to secure the victory. The outcome was still in doubt when Hempstead center Ty Putchio was called for a technical foul for hanging on the rim after missing an ally-oop dunk with 44.4 seconds left in the fourth quarter. City was leading 42-40 when Putchio was called for the technical foul.
City senior guard Mitch Wieland made both free throws following the technical foul and Hickman also made two free throws with 27.3 seconds left to play to give City a 47-40 lead.
“I came in and gave all the effort I could give to pick up my teammates,” said Hickman, a 5-10 senior.
Hempstead coach Curt Duetsch warned his players at halftime about City’s full-court press.
“They didn’t show it to us in the first half and we talked about it at halftime,” Deutsch said. “And we spent two days kind of going over it.
“(City) did a really nice job of speeding us up and getting us going too fast.”
City also received a spark from 6-8 senior center Luke Posivio, who made 5-of-6 field-goal attempts and finished with 11 points despite playing with a sore knee.
City returns to action today against Davenport North. Tip-off is scheduled for about 2:30 p.m. at City High.
DUBUQUE HEMPSTEAD (40) – Martell Wilson 3 4-5 11, Bailey Paulsen 0 0-0 0, Robert Duax 2 0-0 6, Avery Butler 4 4-4 15, Ty Putchio 2 4-4 8, Will Smith 0 0-0 0, Caleb Rindfleisch 0 0-0 0, Patrick Keleher 0 0-0 0. Totals 11 12-13 40.
CITY HIGH (49) – Ladarius Taylor 7 2-3 16, Luke Povisio 5 1-1 11, Mitch Wieland 0 3-4 3, Aaron Withrow 2 0-0 4, Logan Lafauce 3 1-2 7, Quinton Forrester 2 0-0 4, Emmanual Hooper 0 0-0 0, JaMarty Hall 1 0-0 2, Conner Danielson 0 0-0 0, Gionni Hickman 0 2-3 2. Totals 20 9-14 49.
3-point goals – Avery Butler 3, Robert Duax 2, Martell Wilson. Fouls – Hempstead 12, City 17.