New-look Maranatha boys split games with IMAC, Lone Jack opening weekend
With first-year head coach Tavis Hackathorn at the helm, the Maranatha Academy boys basketball team opened the season last week with back-to-back road games at Immaculata and Lone Jack (Mo.) on Thursday and Friday nights. The result was a 1-1 split with several positives to take away from the opening weekend.
On Thursday, the Eagles opened the season with a 66-57 victory at Immaculata behind 18 points from senior forward Robby Thomas. The Eagles built up a 10-point lead in the second quarter, but foul trouble for Thomas and forward Jaryd Dolinar forced them to the bench in the third quarter, allowing the Raiders to pull back even. Judicious use of Thomas and Dolinar in the fourth quarter allowed the Eagles to pull back ahead and outscore Immaculata by nine in the final quarter to secure the win.
“It was a good first win for us,” Hackathorn said. “We played well in the fourth quarter and were able to push the ball back inside. I liked that we ran what we were supposed to run and that we responded well to getting tied.”
At Lone Jack, the Eagles faced a towering front line of 6-foot-8, 6-3, and 6-3 front court players. Maranatha played zone defense almost exclusively, but still found itself down by 15 at halftime to the Mules. Strong defensive rebounding allowed the Eagles to pull back to within six with three minutes left to go, before eventually falling, 70-58. Josh Wirtz led Maranatha offensively with 18 points.
Overall, Hackathorn was pleased with what he saw from his team both nights.
“I was really excited,” Hackathorn said. “The guys really fought hard. It was a good first week and a good way to start the season.”
When asked about improvements needed for this week’s slate of games, Hackathorn had his eyes set on changes needed before the second time the Eagles take on Crossroads Conference opponents like Lone Jack.
“We have got to get better at executing our offense against teams that are more athletic than we are,” Hackathorn said. “We need to make sure our base stuff is down by Christmas break so that we can put in new stuff for when we see these teams a second time around. I want us to have something different to show them.”
The Eagles have a busy slate before the break. After Tuesday night’s home game against St. Mary’s, the Eagles will travel to Van Horn on Friday night to take on the Falcons. The team will end its December slate of games Dec. 16 with a home tilt against Imagine Renaissance Academy.