Wildcats head into holiday break on winning note

By: 
Theo Tate

Montgomery County junior Ethan Rakers looks to make a pass while being defended by New Haven’s John Liggett on Dec. 22. The Wildcats beat the Shamrocks 60-43. THEO TATE PHOTO

ys basketball team started its season in heartbreaking fashion, losing to the Winfield Warriors 57-52 in overtime at Ballew & Snell Court.

Now, the Wildcats will be enjoying a winning record going into their two-week holiday break.

MCHS improved to 5-3 with a 60-43 home victory over the New Haven Shamrocks on Dec. 22 in its final game before its long break. The Wildcats have won four of their last five games.

“Anytime you can win, there’s at least some good feeling in it,” MCHS coach Scott Kroeger said. “Our team has a lot of little things to work on, but I thought it’s the second game in a row that we really fought and that’s something that’s very hard to coach. It’s something that the kids have to decide to do. So I was very proud of them for that. There’s stuff that we still have to clean up.”

MCHS will start its 2021 portion of its schedule on Jan. 6 against Fort Zumwalt East at home. Last year, the Wildcats beat the Lions 55-40 on the road.

“Fort Zumwalt East is a really big team,” Kroeger said. “They’re coming to our house this year. We were able to play them last year at their place and got a good win against a big school. When they come up here, we have to deal with their size.”

Besides New Haven, MCHS also had wins over Hermann, Wellsville-Middletown, Silex and Wright City. The Wildcats lost games to Monroe City, Mexico and Winfield.

 “The record is not exactly where we wanted to be,” Kroeger said. “But the most important thing moving forward is realizing these games don’t really matter in the long run. It matters how we use what’s happening in these games and what’s happening in practices. Our biggest obstacle that we have right now is we have to figure out how to become a better basketball team in practice because our practices are spilling over into our play. That’s the one way you’re going to improve.”

The Wildcats had three players in double figures against the Shamrocks. Senior Collin Parker finished with 27 points, 13 in the first half and 14 in the second. Senior Ke’Ljah Carter scored 12 points off the bench, including 10 in the second quarter. Junior Drake Smith had 10 points.

Junior Ty Leu scored eight points, half of them were in the second quarter. With the Wildcats trailing 14-13 late in the second, Leu scored back-to-back buckets to give his team a 17-14 lead. MCHS never trailed the rest of the way.

“He’s got to realize that there are a couple of other ways to score a little bit farther out from the basket because he’s so athletic,” Kroeger said. “He tries getting all the way to the rim every time, which I love as a coach. He tries not to settle, which is a good thing. He’s got the capabilities to score in a couple of different ways. We just have to figure out how to start utilizing him. He can be an even more productive player offensively for us.”

MCHS defeated New Haven for the fourth straight time. The Wildcats bounced back from a 60-49 loss to Monroe City on Dec. 19 that snapped a three-game winning streak.

“We came into this game after losing to Monroe City knowing that New Haven had a pretty decent team,” Smith said. “We were practicing really hard all week. It’s been kind of a rough week at practice. Coming into this game, we were going to focus on playing hard, running plays and playing good defense.”

 

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