Pair of wins puts Jags in driver’s seat
Team takes control of KVL with wins over Piper and Basehor
Everything was going Kyle DeBerg's way Friday night.
He scored a game-high 15 points and had a block party (a game-high three blocks) to lead his Jaguars to a 50-34 victory over the visiting Bobcats of Basehor-Lindwood. In the first quarter, an errant pass from the top of the key bounced off the top of the backboard and into DeBerg's hands for an easy layup. And at halftime, the senior big man was named this year's Courtwarming King.
But don't tell DeBerg he was the "king of the court" Friday night -- as Mill Valley coach Justin Bogart jokingly labeled him after the game. DeBerg said he didn't really care all that much about his new "king" status, although he did say it felt pretty good to be picked as king. DeBerg was more worried about his play on the court.
"I didn't think I played that well tonight," said a modest DeBerg after the game. DeBerg also added he's been sick with the flu all week.
Regardless, DeBerg's ho-hum performance was enough to bury the Bobcats. Basehor-Linwood, which was riding a season high three-game winning streak, was overmatched from the beginning Friday night.
After Bogart delivered what DeBerg called a pretty good motivational speech before the game, the Jaguars came out on fire, shooting 8-for-12 the first quarter and jumping out to a 19-4 lead.
"That three-game winning streak got our attention. They won all those on the road," Bogart said. "We talked about trying to get on them early and we did."
The first-quarter knockout punch was delivered and highlighted by a trio of three-pointers from senior guard Ryan Gracy. Gracy scored all nine of his points in the first quarter and ended the quarter with a 28-foot bomb with one second left on the clock.
Bogart stressed to his team before the game that it needed to focus on getting off to a quick start after it had struggled early in games as of late, including falling behind Tuesday against Piper.
But there were no problems early against the Bobcats. A big reason for the first half domination -- a 29-12 lead at half -- was junior guard Connor Koch. Koch came off the bench to provide eight first-half points and two steals.
"Connor came in and really gave us a good boost," Bogart said. "The kid is all over the place. He's the best rebounder for his size and I'm pleased to see him score some points."
Koch, who finished with 10 points, had his best game since returning from injury. Koch broke his nose in practice before the Jaguar's first and only loss of the season to Wellsville.
Koch was a starter before suffering the injury (junior post Michael Mahan took his spot). Since returning, Koch said he has been more cautious rebounding the ball. But Koch didn't seem cautious against the Bobcats as he picked his spots and slashed to the basket with ease, a sign he obviously felt like his old self again.
"I didn't really push the tempo as much tonight," Koch said. "I tried to force it the past few games. I let everything come to me more tonight and I was in the right place at the right time."
After building the big first half lead, the Jaguars put it on cruise control in the second half, somewhat to the dismay of Bogart.
"When you keep a team to 12 points at half, you have to feel pretty good about it," Bogart said. "We challenged a lot of shots, but I didn't like our effort and our intensity on defense in the second half. We gave up too many second chance points."
Luckily for the Jags, they didn't have too much to worry about in the second half and the starters were able to relax and enjoy the team's 15th victory of the season from the bench.
With the win Mill Valley moved to 15-1 overall and 10-0 in Kaw Valley League play. The Jags put their perfect league record on the line against Perry-Lecompton on Tuesday night. Results were not available at press time.
As for the win over the streaking Bobcats, Bogart was happy to get another win.
"That's a young ball team and they are going to get good," he said. "They've made a significant improvement already this season. We're a pretty good ball team, too, so we took care of business tonight."
Just three days earlier, the Jags were put through one of their toughest tests of the season, a road battle with second-place Piper. Despite struggling early, and falling behind
20-18 at halftime, the Jags outscored the Pirates 26-17 in the second half to claim a 44-37 victory.
Offensively, Mill Valley was paced by three players who scored in double figures. Jack Johnson had 12, Mahan added 11 and DeBerg chipped in 10.
The seven-point win gave the Jags a firm grip on the Kaw Valley League race. With three games to play (including Tuesday night's game against Perry) the Jags lead Piper by two games in the standings.