Every season the goal is the same. Regardless of the level, coaches all make the same claim they want to play the best basketball at the end of the season. This was the case for the 2020-21 Maquoketa Valley boys’ basketball team. The Wildcats showed tremendous improvement both individually and as a team throughout the season including three overtime wins. It takes a lot of guts and determination to accomplish that. They learned from mistakes and were playing their best basketball at the end of the season making it to the district final game in Independence for a chance to advance to sub-state.
Head coach Eric Conner commented, “When I look back on the season, I would consider this season a success. As a coach, there is always more to the season than the wins and the losses. Finishing the season at 12-12, I thought there were some games that we could have competed more in, but for the most part, I thought we got the most out of the season that we could ask for.”
Half of the Wildcats’ defeats came at the hands of just three Tri-Rivers West conference foes, including twice to number one ranked North Linn. “We play in a very tough league and played a very tough non-conference schedule. But what I was most happy with was the growth that I saw from my players. They continually improved and were playing their best basketball at the end of the season, and they grew a lot as young men as well. I am really proud of them and would not have asked to go through this challenging season with any other group,” said Connor.
The Wildcats will be saying goodbye to eight seniors: Miguel Bojorquez, Andrew Hildebrand, Mitch Heims, Andrew Holtz, Owen Mensen, Jacorrey Wallace, DeVante Strickland and Tony Offerman. Holtz led the team in scoring with a team-high 318 points. He was second in assists behind his younger brother Avery, who led the team with 93. He was second on the team in rebounds with 84 behind junior AJ Ambundo, with a team-high 130, and third on the team in steals with 35 behind Avery Holtz (40) and Ambundo (39).
“This year’s senior group is one that will not be forgotten. First and foremost, they are young men of character and fun to be around. They worked their tails off each and every day to get better and are just great young men. When we talked after the season, I told them that they should be proud to look back at this program one day and the future success that we may have and know that they were the ones that really made us turn the corner in our program. They will be missed next season.
“It is an exciting time right now for basketball at Maquoketa Valley for both the boys’ and girls’ teams. We have players in our program that are talented and very eager to get better. There will be some big shoes to fill losing eight seniors, and some of those shoes will be filled with some familiar names that are returning, but I am very excited about the future of our basketball program,” concluded Conner.