Two boys basketball teams in the Top of Iowa Conference East Division separated themselves from the pack with undefeated records prior to the winter break
When play resumed on Friday, those two contenders, West Fork and Osage, squared off to determine which team would gain the advantage early in conference play.
Over the years, the Warhawks, under veteran coach Frank Schnoes, have found a number of ways to stay near the top of the standings.
On Friday, it was the defense’s turn as West Fork held the Green Devils to just 26 points over the first three quarters in a 54-47 win.
“Both teams played great defense in the first half,” Schnoes said. “We really focused on trying to get them out of their rhythm.”
West Fork took an eight-point advantage at 34-26 into the final eight minutes, but the story of the first three quarters was that the Warhawks limited the Green Devils to just 29 shot attempts with a stingy man-to-man defense.
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The two teams traded baskets at a frenetic pace over the final quarter as they combined for more than 40 percent of the points scored over the final eight minutes.
The Warhawks were able to secure the win with six consecutive free throws over the final 44 seconds.
Kayden Ames, who entered the game averaging 14.3 points per game, finally found the range in the final quarter as he netted 10 of his team-high 15 points to help the Warhawks.
Brayden Vold, who averaged nearly 12 points per game entering the contest, finished with 14, all in the second half.
Jonah Bluhm and Thor Maakestad combined for 35 points for the Green Devils.
West Fork (8-0, 6-0), which moved a game in front of the Green Devils in the conference standings, returns home to face North Butler in conference play on Tuesday.
Osage (7-1, 5-1) travels to Rockford in a key conference game on Tuesday.