Going into the season Coach Eric Conner had a goal in mind going into each game, and that was to keep each opponent under 50 points. Maquoketa Valley’s boys’ basketball team accomplished that Dec. 8 when the Wildcats traveled to Easton Valley but just didn’t shoot the ball good enough losing, 46-31.
Early on, the Wildcats did a great job neutralizing Easton Valley’s size and getting stops defensively. Even though they had a rough stretch in the second quarter only scoring five points, they were still in the game. The Wildcats were down three with a chance to tie and hold for one shot, but a mental mistake shooting too early with about nine seconds left gave Easton Valley one more chance at a three which they made for a six-point lead at half 23-17.
Conner said, “Easton Valley is a good team that is really well-coached, with Coach Beck getting to 700 career wins. We knew that it was going to take a perfect effort defensively to slow down their size inside.”
Coming out in the second half Easton Valley kept the offensive pressure on. The Wildcats were still trying to get things going on offense and were able to score four points making the score 33-21 going into the fourth quarter.
A strong fourth quarter with 10 points had the Wildcats feeling good, but they were unable to stifle the Easton Valley offense.
Leading the way for the Wildcats was Andrew Holtz with a team-high 13 points. He also contributed with five rebounds.
“We made some adjustments at halftime and felt good about where we were at, but just didn’t hit shots down the stretch to stay in the game. I was proud of our guys’ effort and hustle on the court and the way they handled themselves, we just came up short,” said Conner.
Individual stat leaders against Easton Valley were: points — Andrew Holtz 13, Avery Holtz six, Miguel Bojorquez, Mitch Heims, AJ Ambundo and Owen Mensen three; assists — Avery Holtz four, Ambundo and Heims two; rebounds — Andrew Holtz five, Bojorquez four, Heims, Avery Holtz three, Lucas Orcutt and Ambundo two, Mensen, Brock Trentkamp and Jacorrey Wallace one; steals — Avery Holtz two, Orcutt, Ambundo and Andrew Holtz one.
On Dec. 11 the Wildcats hosted Cedar Valley Christian in a battle between Tri-Rivers conference foes. The Wildcats controlled the game from the start bringing home the win, 52-24.
Coming out strong, the Wildcats jumped out to an 11-0 lead and allowed only eight points at the half, just one in the second quarter. They led 44-12 going into the fourth quarter allowing Conner to put in some reserves for needed playing time.
Conner said, “This was a game that we went into knowing that we were favored, but like we tell our guys each game, we play faceless opponents. We know that we have to come out ready to go and control what we can. When we do that, it doesn’t matter who we are playing, we are going to give ourselves a chance to be in the game. We hit a little bit of an offensive lull in the rest of the quarter, but then took control of the game going on a 19-1 run heading into halftime. Andrew Holtz led us in scoring with 17 and then we got an even spread of scoring from a number of guys to round things out. It was nice to get all of our guys that dress some varsity playing time so we can attempt to build some depth. I was proud of how hard our kids played and how they stayed positive with each other to work through that rough stretch in the first quarter. We look forward to game planning for the three games we have this next week and look to gain some momentum heading into the break.”
Dec. 12 the Wildcats were supposed to travel to Lisbon for another conference battle, but adverse weather postponed it until Dec. 17.
“The game was originally pushed back for our game due to the road conditions. Then heading to the school to get ready to hit the road only to find out that our rural roads were deemed unsafe for travel from our superintendent.” said coach Conner.