The Blair-Taylor Wildcats traveled to Independence last Thursday evening to kick off another season of basketball, but the Wildcats came out on the short end of the 54-43 game.
The game was a defensive battle since at halftime the Indees led by a score of 18-16. In the second half, with only three minutes to play, the Indees still held the lead at 45-40, but the Indees would hit their free throws down the stretch to claim the conference victory.
“Our defense overall was very good,” said coach Randy Storlie. “The name of the game is making plays and we didn’t make enough of them to win tonight. Our shot selection was fantastic and we got close to 70 shots off, but when you only shoot 24 percent, you can’t win.”
The Wildcats were cold all night as in the first half they shot a dismal 16 percent.
The Indees outscored the Wildcats by 11 on the free throw line, which was the difference in the game.
“You win or lose games on the charity line. You cannot shoot a meager 22 percent and expect to win games. We shot plenty of free throws and had our shots tonight—we have to start making them and we will as the season progresses,” Storlie said.
Leading the Wildcats in scoring was junior guard Josh Olson with 11 points. A trio of Wildcats each chipped in with seven points in Nick Shepherd, Issac Nerby and Mathew Waldera. Rounding out the scoring was Logan Smith with four, Tyler Kirchner with three and Dakota Garrett and Kyle Steien each with two points.
The Wildcats would next head to Gilmanton where they picked up their first win of the season with a 77-66 victory on the road.
“I’m proud of the boys as they played hard from the opening tip to the final whistle and to pick up a win on the road is always tough early in the year,” Storlie said.
The Panthers came out on fire as they took an early lead on the Wildcats, but the B-T kids kept playing and pulled back into the game and finally took the lead just before halftime and never gave it up the rest of the game.
Every time the Wildcats would start building on their advantage, the Panthers would hit a couple of tough shots and climb back into the game.
The Wildcats finally took a 10-point lead with eight minutes to play and never let the Gilmanton squad get any closer.
“We didn’t shoot the ball very well again tonight, but better than before,” Storlie said.
The Wildcats shot 35 percent on the evening, but connected on 25 free throws to pull away.
“We have to start hitting more outside shots as we were outscored 30-6 tonight from the 3-point line and still won going away. We have things to do to get better, but it seems to be coming along,” Storlie said.
Leading the scoring attack for B-T was Waldera with 23 points. The rest of the team had very balanced scoring as Kirchner and Steien each had 11 points. Nerby had 10, Smith and Shepherd had eight and Olson dropped in six points in the win. Kichner led the team with 10 rebounds and Olson handed out six assists.