Second-half rally fizzles for shorthanded Central men’s basketball squad

Central Dutch Athletics

Central Dutch Athletics

DUBUQUE—A spirited second-half rally fizzled for a shorthanded and undersized Central College men’s basketball team in a 106-91 loss at Loras College Saturday.

Minus two injured frontcourt starters, the Dutch (7-10 overall, 4-4 American Rivers) had to rely on a four-guard lineup and still sliced a 20-point deficit to two points. After falling behind 53-33 in the first half and trailing 53-38 at intermission, Central used a 13-4 run in a 2:40 span to climb within 65-63 with 13:32 remaining. But Loras, the league’s second-place team at 6-2 and 14-4 overall, responded with a 17-5 burst of its own and held a double-digit lead the rest of the way.

“I thought we showed a lot in the second half,” coach Craig Douma said. “I was really proud of the way we played.”

Loras was able to wear down the Dutch late in the game as Central again had three players log more than 30 minutes. Guards Jamel McKnight (senior, Austin, Texas, Hendrickson HS) and Shimar Jones (senior, Marshall, Texas) each played 37.

“Loras’s game plan coming in was to really push the ball hard and play a lot of guys,” Douma said. “They took advantage of their deeper bench.”

Guard Adam Flinn (sophomore, Wildwood, Mo., Lafayette HS) had 20 points and six rebounds for the Dutch while forward Thomas Spoehr (freshman, Bennington, Neb.) posted a career-high 17 points. McKnight had 11 points and a game-high eight assists.

But Central also got some help from a couple of newer sources. Forward Mason Walter (senior, Urbandale), taking advantage of increased playing time off the bench, notched a career best with 14 points in 20 minutes, hitting three 3-point baskets. And sophomore guard Tylor Obermeyer (sophomore, Papillion, Neb.), a wide receiver on the Dutch football squad, saw his first varsity basketball action and responded with 13 points and four rebounds in 21 minutes.

“I thought Tylor Obermeyer kept us in the game in the first half,” coach Craig Douma said. “And Mason gave us a nice lift. They both shot the ball well.”

Douma sensed that Obermeyer was ready.

“His energy off the bench is what we needed,” Douma said. “He practices so hard and prepared himself for this moment. Then he capitalized when that moment arrived.”

Central’s lack of length was betrayed on the boards, where Loras held a 42-25 advantage.

“I was really concerned about our rebounding coming in,” Douma said. “I thought that would be a key. They took advantage of their size.”

Douma was not as impressed with the Dutch defense. Loras hit 54.0 percent from the floor. Central shot 48.5 percent, including 50.0 percent (15-30) from 3-point range.

“I wasn’t real happy with what we did defensively,” he said. “We’ve got to be better than what we showed. You’ve got to play with urgency and get through those screens.”

Central was without injured forwards Caden Mauck (sophomore, Kansas City, Mo., Blue Springs South HS) and Seth Wood (junior, Branson, Mo.), the team’s top rebounder and 3-point shooter. The timeline for their return remains uncertain, although Douma is hopeful that both will be back soon, at least on a limited basis.

Central is home Wednesday to take on Coe College at 8 p.m. at P.H. Kuyper Gymnasium. The Kohawks were 9-7 overall and 3-4 in the conference heading into a Saturday evening game at Simpson College. Central scored an 87-73 road surprise in the teams’ first meeting Dec. 5 at Cedar Rapids.

“Coe has improved since then and we’re a whole different team now,” Douma said. “Coe has played pretty well since Christmas. It will be a big game for us. We’ll need support from our fans.”

Live stats and a video webcast of Wednesday’s games can be accessed via athletics.central.edu.

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