EPWORTH, Iowa -- Western Dubuque presents: The Strange Case of Dr. Jekyll & Mr. Hyde.
The classic tale of split personalities oozed through the performance of the Iowa Class 4A No. 8-ranked Bobcats on Thursday night against rival Dyersville Beckman, making just enough plays to hold off the Trailblazers in a 64-62 thriller at Western Dubuque High School.
First came the good -- a dominant three quarters where the Bobcats (12-2, 11-2 WaMaC Conference) owned the Blazers and built a 20-point lead. Then followed the bad -- folding to Beckman (5-11, 5-8) in the final quarter as the Blazers went on a 29-11 run and made things interesting in the final minutes.
"I think the last couple games the girls have put a lot of pressure on themselves," Western Dubuque coach Amy Ostwinkle said. "We just came in and told them to play relaxed and play our type of basketball. But we let them rush us again in that fourth quarter and you can see the difference of how well we can play and what things we still need to work on."
Western Dubuque blasted out to a lead it never relinquished behind the prowess of its 3-point shot. The Bobcats took a 36-20 lead at halftime with six 3-point field goals in the first half and finished with nine for the game.
"It's been missing for awhile and it was nice to finally shoot it again," Ostwinkle said. "The girls are looking at that shot and some girls stepped up and took it when they needed to. We're starting to find when we need to shoot that outside shot, versus forcing it. And that made a huge difference tonight."
Senior Madalyn Welty came through in the clutch, finding her stroke for a team-high 18 points while drilling four 3-pointers.
"The last few games we've been struggling, so it was nice to hit down those 3s this game," Welty said. "You just have to be confident in your shot and knock it down."
The game looked over when the Bobcats took a 53-33 lead entering the fourth quarter, but the Blazers attacked WD's Achilles' heel on the night to change the tide -- rebounding.
"Rebounding was definitely (almost) our downfall tonight," said Ostwinkle, whose team was outrebounded by Beckman, 38-15, including 21 on the offensive glass. "Beckman did a great job of getting to the boards. A lot of time we can use our size to get it but Beckman has a lot of height inside. They crashed very hard."
Second-chance opportunities created daylight for the Blazers. A 3-pointer by Danielle Kennedy got Beckman back within single digits, 57-48, with 4:15 to play. Sophomore Blair Klostermann, whose relentless attack of the paint in the fourth quarter led to 13 points in the frame and a game-high 22 points, hit a jumper to make it 60-54 with 1:34 on the clock.
"We just played our hearts out," Klostermann said. "I just wanted to do what was possible to get this team back in the game. I wanted to beat these guys so bad and it got close so I just got into it. We just kept going at it and playing hard."
Another jumper deep in the lane by Klostermann cut WD's lead to 60-58 with 55.3 seconds left. Welty then drilled two free throws before Klostermann drove in again for a layup that made it 62-60 with 30 seconds left.
After the Bobcats' Brette Correy (10 points) hit a pair from the charity stripe with 19.4 seconds to go, Blair's sister, Brooke, found the bottom of the net to cut the lead to two again.
With 8 seconds left, Correy missed the front end of the 1-and-1, but WD's Zoey Weber hustled down one of the Bobcats' few rebounds and snuffed out the Blazers rally.
"What we've been stressing and stressing is that we need four quarters of basketball," Ostwinkle said. "It just comes down to having that confidence that if a team makes a run on you, how do you respond? In the fourth quarter, we didn't respond the way we needed to."
The Bobcats hope the curtain has dropped on their performance of Dr. Jekyll & Mr. Hyde. And they know the way best suited to make that happen.
"I'm sure we'll be rebounding a lot in practice tomorrow," Welty said.