Mill Valley’s Cooper Kaifes nets 1,000th career point in 72-60 win over Aquinas
Mill Valley senior Cooper Kaifes couldn't have scripted a much better start to his weekend.
Named winter homecoming king at halftime of the Jaguars' boys basketball game on Friday against St. Thomas Aquinas: check.
Score 23 points in a 72-60 win over the Saints: check.
Find out after the game from coach Mike Bennett that you scored your 1,000th career point: check.
"It's been a great night," Kaifes said. "To make it even better, tomorrow (Saturday) is my birthday, too."
Shortly after Bennett broke the news of Kaifes' milestone in the locker room, the Mill Valley senior deflected the credit to achieving it to his coach.
"I was talking to my dad about it yesterday when we were in the gym and he didn't think I was that close. It just means a lot," Kaifes said. "I want to thank coach Bennett for everything he's done for me. I'm just really excited about it."
Kaifes had plenty of help in the Jaguars' victory over the Saints. Junior Logan Talley was a perfect 5 for 5 from 3-point range and finished with 16 points. The ball was moving fluidly within the offense, which led to six Jaguars scoring at least seven points. Keeshawn Mason and Ben Weigel scored nine and eight points, respectively, while Ike Valencia and Mason Little added seven apiece.
Brody Flaming logged the Jaguars' other two points, and the bucket was a perfect example of how the Jaguars were able to be successful. Kaifes drove into traffic throughout the night, but as the Saints started to collapse on him, he was able to dish it to his teammates like he did with Flaming to close the third quarter.
"The last couple of weeks, we've put in a new offense — which is basically all dribble-drive and kind of create for yourself and then you create for others when other people help and you can just kick out," Kaifes said. "We just did a really good job of hitting shots and just getting to the rim and finishing."
While Flaming's bucket gave the Jaguars a 54-41 lead going into the fourth quarter, the Saints didn't go quietly. Despite being without sharp-shooting senior Drew Nusbaum, the Saints battled their way back with in five points on three different occasions by getting to the free-throw line. The Saints made the most of their trips to the charity stripe — knocking down 19 of their 23 free throw attempts for the game — but the Jaguars pushed their lead from five to 16 with 11-0 run down the stretch to put Aquinas away.
Kaifes started the run with two free throws and ended it with a layup. The Loyola Chicago signee nearly added a thunderous dunk in the middle of the run, but Mason was there for the put back. Mason followed that up with a dunk a few seconds later and had six points in the fourth. Talley hit the dagger 3-pointer to extend the lead to 10 at 66-56. The junior guard knocked down two treys in the fourth.
"It gives us an outside scoring threat. Logan wasn't the only one," Bennett said. "We had some great efforts tonight. Mason Little came in and hit a big shot and then he got an and-1. He played well. We just had an overall group effort and I was really proud of our guys."
Bennett and Kaifes both emphasized the importance of the Jaguars maintaining their offensive balance going into Tuesday's road tilt against Blue Valley Northwest (12-4, No. 1 in Class 6A). The Jaguars and Huskies are scheduled to tip at 7 p.m.
"When we're hitting shots, I think we can play with anyone in the EKL," Kaifes said. "If everyone is hitting shots and everyone is locking down on D, I think we're a really good team."
Although Bennett is looking forward to the Jaguars getting back to work on Monday, he was glad to be able to take some time on Friday night after the game to celebrate Kaifes' 1,000th career point.
"You don't get too many players like Cooper Kaifes. I surely haven't had a lot," Bennett said. "He's a special kid, a special player. He works hard at his craft. I couldn't be more proud of his effort tonight and his effort throughout his career and what he got."
MILL VALLEY (72)
Matty Wittenauer 0-0 0-0 0, Sammy Rebeck 0-2 0-0 0, Mason Little 3-6 0-1 7, Logan Talley 5-7 1-2 16, Ben Weigel 3-6 2-2 8, Cooper Kaifes 8-14 6-8 23, Ike Valencia 2-6 2-2 7, Brody Flaming 1-2 0-0 2, Keeshawn Mason 4-5 1-1 9. Totals 26-48 12-16 72.
Drew Nusbaum 0-0 0-0 0, Zac Genilo 3-8 3-4 11, Jorge Palazuelos 1-2 0-0 2, Jack Morrissey 2-5 2-2 6, Zarian Navy 3-6 3-4 9, T.J. Williams-Bey 1-2 0-0 3, Joe Rost 5-12 4-5 14, Kenny Gavin 3-7 0-0 6, Tyron Young 1-3 7-9 9. Totals 19-45 19-23 60.
Mill Valley 14 23 17 18 — 72
Aquinas 15 12 14 19 — 60
Three-point goals: Mill Valley 8-13 (Talley 5, Little, Kaifes, Valencia); Aquinas 3-15 (Genilo 2, Williams-Bey). Fouled out: None. Turnovers: Mill Valley 8, Aquinas 13.