It didn’t take Bill Peeper long Tuesday to pinpoint how Iola was able to snap a three-game losing streak.
“Our defensive intensity and effort was at a higher level than it had been,” he said. “It was palpable from beginning to end.”
The Mustangs dominated through the second and third quarters, then hit enough free throws down the stretch to hold off visiting Prairie View, 62-51.
The win lifts Iola to 4-3 in Pioneer League play and 8-9 overall.
Victory came in front of a large, boisterous crowd egged on by Iola’s standout pep band, including guest musicians from Wichita State University.
The energy level played a roll in Peeper’s pregame speech.
“Our band is always so good, and tonight wasn’t any different,” he said. “I told the guys it was up to them to make it so the band wasn’t the only good thing the fans got to see.”
The Mustangs were particularly effective at defending passes into Prairie View’s post players.
“I thought we did a nice job of frustrating them at times,” he said.
Iola’s Bryan Mueller and Fryendz Wallace set the tone early. Mueller corralled three steals in the first quarter, while Wallace scored the Mustangs’ first eight points.
“Bryan did a great job of getting us started,” Peeper said. “He was very active on the defensive end.”
Meanwhile, Wallace was the primary beneficiary of some nifty interior passing, which led to a series of open layups.
Tyler McIntosh got into the act next with a buzzer-beating lay-in at the close of the first quarter, and another layup about 40 seconds into the second period to knot the score at 12-12.
Jesse Zimmerman stepped to the forefront with consecutive 3-pointers — his first since a win over Rossville in late January — to cap a 10-0 run, putting the Mustangs on top, 18-12.
Trent Latta’s 3-point play with 20 seconds left in the half pushed the lead to 25-16.
The fun continued after intermission. McIntosh had a pair of traditional 3-point plays, while Adam Kauth scored twice to give Iola a 33-19 cushion.
Prairie View didn’t go quietly.
Shey Spears hit 6 of 8 free throws over a 2-minute stretch to trigger a 16-7 Buffalo run. His steal and layup with 5½ minutes left pared Iola’s lead to 40-35.
Wallace scored twice again to extend the lead back to nine, but opportunities to stretch it even further were thwarted by cold free throw shooting. The Mustangs missed six straight free throws at one point. Blake Barnes hit a 3-pointer for Prairie View to again pull within 45-40 at the 2-minute mark.
But Iola’s defense put down the clamps and the Buffalos went cold from outside. Latta and McIntosh went a combined 5 of 6 from the line in the final 1:42 to seal the win.
“We did a nice job of moving the ball around to get Fryendz some good looks,” Peeper said. “It was good to see Jesse hit from outside again, and Tyler McIntosh did a nice job of attacking the basket.”
Wallace led the way with 14 points and five rebounds, followed by McIntosh with 12 points and four boards. Latta scored eight points with three steals and two assists. Tyler Powelson had nine rebounds and two assists, Zimmerman had nine points and two assists. Kauth had seven points and four rebounds, Mueller four steals and Adam Peterson two assists.
Spears and Levi Ross shared high scoring honors for Prairie View. Ross, the Buffalos’ 6-4 center, had only two after halftime.
IOLA’S JUNIOR varsity fell, 35-28. Peterson scored nine to pace the Mustangs, followed by Brett Taylor with eight. Grant Dela Cruz and Travis Hermstein added four each. Joel Zimmerman had two and Gus Hopkins one.
The Mustang C team prevailed over Prairie View, 44-29, behind Chase Regehr’s 14 points. Ben Cooper and Joel Zimmerman had six apiece. Isaiah Fawson, Rhett Allen and Mason Ingle all had four, while Gage Cleaver, Garrett Wade and Gage Tomlinson scored two each.
The Mustangs return to action Friday at Wellsville.
Prairie View (11-4-10-15—41)
Prairie View (FG/3pt-FT-F-TP): Barthol 1/1-0-1-5, Ackerson 0-0-2-0, Barnes 1/2-0-3-8, Spears 1-7-3-9, Lee 1-1-2-3, Phelps 1-1-4-3, Ross 4-1-3-9, Robbins 1-2-3-4. TOTALS: 10/2-12-20-41.
Iola (FG/3pt-FT-F-TP): Latta 1-6-1-8, Mueller 0-0-3-0, Wallace 7-0-3-14, McIntosh 4-4-2-12, Zimmerman 0/3-0-2-9, Kauth 3-1-1-7, Powelson 1-0-3-2, Peterson 0-0-2-0. TOTALS: 16/3-11-17-52