(Story by Gabe Ploeger)
The Dowling Catholic boys’ basketball team got off to a hot start Friday and never cooled off.
The Maroons made 5-of-8 3-point shots in the first quarter and went on to beat visiting Ankeny Centennial, 79-64, in a CIML Conference game. Both teams are now 1-1 in the league and overall.
“Down 33 to 11 in the first half…we just weren’t very connected, especially on the defensive end of the floor,” said Centennial coach Bob Fontana. “We didn’t start playing like we were supposed to until about the middle of the second quarter.”
Dowling finished 14-of-24 from behind the arc. Joey Coppola went 4-of-7 from deep and poured in 29 points while also contributing four assists and two steals.
Cole Southard sparked the Maroons’ fast start with a trio of 3-pointers in the first quarter. He went 5-of-10 from behind the arc for 15 points.
Ryan Kleppe scored 12 points, going 3-for-4 from 3-point range. Joe Broderick had a double-double with 12 points and 11 rebounds.
“Credit to Dowling, they took the fight to us and we just didn’t respond. They were ready to play,” Fontana said. “At halftime they had nine 3-pointers and that was 27 points of their 38 points, but I tell our guys we’ve got the 24-hour rule. You learn from it and decide what you’re going to do about it.”
Centennial tried to rally in the second half, cutting the lead to single digits multiple times. Guard Luke Winkel scored 21 of his 26 points after halftime, including a big 3-pointer that cut the Jaguars’ deficit to 52-43 at the end of the third quarter.
Winkel went 4-of-8 from 3-point range, but his teammates didn’t fare as well, going a combined 1-of-20 from behind the arc.
In the end, Dowling put the game away at the free-throw line. The Maroons made 21-of-27 attempts from the charity stripe.
“We cut it to eight several times in the second half, but we just couldn’t get a stop,” Fontana said. “They just beat us from the 3-point line and the free-throw line.”
Nick Vaske had 13 points and five rebounds in the loss. Will Smith added 11 points.
“This league is not very forgiving,” Fontana said. “And now we have a tough non-conference opponent coming in Tuesday night in Iowa City Liberty. They have good shooters and they got two big guys so it’ll be a tough test for us.”