TRURO — Alex Welsch did most of the damage, but it was junior TJ Bower who wielded the dagger as Nodaway Valley survived a tough Pride of Iowa Conference road test against Interstate 35 here on Friday, winning 60-41.
The loss was the first of the season for Interstate 35 in Pride of Iowa Conference play, and ended an eight game winning streak for the Roadrunners. Interstate 35 dropped to 8-3 overall with the loss.
After the Roadrunners closed the deficit to 41-36 heading into the fourth quarter, Bower scored six of his eight points during an 11-0 Wolverine run that spanned the first four-plus minutes of the fourth quarter.
Bower went baseline on back-to-back trips down the floor for layups to put Nodaway Valley up 47-36, and then after Brad Baudler made 1-of-2 technical free throws, Bower spun through the lane for another layup.
“TJ took over,” head coach Darrell Burmeister said. “I thought TJ had his best second half of his junior year, on both ends. He got some big rebounds for us, and then our guys really found him when they started to concentrate more on Alex. TJ on that baseline is as good as it gets. He’s a sweet ballplayer and he can take the ball to the rack pretty quick.”
Nodaway Valley, ranked first in Class 2A, held the Roadrunners to just five points in the fourth quarter. Nodaway Valley improved to 11-0 overall and 9-0 in the POI.
Welsch, a 6-8 post player, scored a game-high 23 points on 11-of-13 shooting from the field, while pulling down 15 rebounds to record a double-double.
“I think defensively we did well on the perimeter, but we really struggled in the post,” Interstate 35 head coach Nate Rankin said. “I thought our one-on-one matchup, we’d have done a little better job. We just struggled to dig and get things down, because we gave up a couple of threes and got a little anxious on digging down. Hopefully we’ll see them again and do things different.y. They’re the number one team in the state. They’re tough.”
Interstate 35 junior Jamal White tied the game up at 17-17 with just over 3:00 left in the first half, but then Dan Ehrsam got loose on back-to-back possessions and knocked down 3-pointers. After a Baudler layup, the Wolverines took a 25-17 lead into halftime.
“Ehrsam hit those two 3’s late (in the half), and that really was a game changer right there, because we missed an assignment,” Rankin said. “And that’s what great teams do, they kill you on those missed assignments. My hat’s off to them. They’re a great team.”
Roadrunner freshman Jaylan White, who finished with a team-high 13 points, gave the Wolverine defense trouble with his quickness.
But, Burmeister said he felt like his team did a good job of taking away his left-hand drive, forcing him to go right.
Zach Goering added 11 points as the only other Roadrunner player in double figures. Colton Clarke scored six points, while Jamal White added five and Mitchell Morris finished with four points. Nick Schaffer netted two points.