Photo by Shelby Hudson
The Jaguars fell to the Maize South High School Mavericks, 60-52, in the first round of state basketball play on Thursday, March 12.
Despite the loss, head coach Mike Bennett was proud of the team’s effort throughout the game.
“The kids are upset, discouraged; they shouldn’t be though. They fought really hard. I’m really proud of our effort tonight,” Bennett said.
Freshman Cooper Kaifes led the all scoring 24 of the team’s points, 18 of them being three-pointers. Junior Logan Koch was the team’s next top scorer with 14 points. Even while scoring 24 points, Kaifes found it harder to shoot playing at a unique location.
“[My three-pointers] really [had an impact on the game], because it was a real momentum turner after each shot,” Kaifes said. “It’s harder to pick up the rim since the background is deeper so it’s harder to shoot, but we figured it out.”
The Jaguars started the game with possession of the ball and took a 2-0 lead less than a minute into the game after a shot by junior Logan Koch. The Mavericks then went on a 9-0 run putting the Jaguars down 9-2 in the middle of the first quarter. The quarter ended 16-12, Mavericks.
In the second quarter the Mavericks outscored the Jaguars 15-11, leaving the Jaguars trailing 31-21 at halftime. Bennett saw room for improvement in the second half after the team got down at the beginning.
We just dug ourselves a hole [but] we wanted to keep fighting,” Bennett said. “We wanted to have more balance, try to drive [the ball], try to get some foul shots. Our mentality was not to back up, but to go at them and be more aggressive.”
The second half began with two free throws by junior Clayton Holmberg bringing the Jaguars within eight points of the Mavericks. Kaifes added eight more points to the board in the third quarter and the Jaguars trailed 48-34 going into the fourth quarter.
“In the first half, we didn’t play up to our expectations, but in the second half we picked it up,” Kaifes said. “We just wanted to hang [with Maize South], not get down by too much and just pick up our energy and get going.
In the fourth quarter, the Jaguars rallied to within three points of Maize South after six consecutive points by Koch, making the score 48-45 halfway though the fourth quarter. While the Jaguars outscored the Mavericks 18-12 in the fourth quarter, the team fell short of a victory.
Bennett credits Maize South for a well-played game.
“[Maize South had] the ability to put the other team in a bad situation; they did the right things,” Bennett said.
Overall, Bennett is proud of the team’s effort throughout its 12-9 season.
“It was a successful season, but we don’t want to settle for just getting to state,” Bennett said. “We want to be in the first place game, so our expectations now are to work, work, work, and get better and be prepared for next year.”