The 2011-2012 season, for the Kiowa County Mavericks, has lost its “new car smell” and the season is getting gritty and dirty quickly. Both the boys and girls teams will be looking to the month of January to set a tone. They will have opportunities to climb up the division ladder, and position themselves for a strong February finish.
The Lady Mavericks entered play on Friday with an overall 2-4-0 record and a 0-1-0 league record, placing them in the middle of the Southern Plains-Iroquois standings below Ashland, Bucklin and Ingalls Ingalls.
Ashland (3-3-0) is surging, winning two of their last three games behind Blue Jays three-point shooter #11 Aspen McCann, sophomore #32 Canaan Endicott, averaging nine points per and #20 Kara Reimer, who mashed the 1-6-0 Attica Bulldogs on Dec. 13 with a double-double, scoring 13 points with 18 total rebounds and two steals.
The Bucklin Red Aces (3-2-0) have also won two of their last three games, pulling out a win on Dec. 13 (36-28) against Ingalls that set them up for a heartbreaking 45-41 loss in the finals of the Bluejay Invitational against Cimarron. A 40-22 win against Meade on Dec. 13 put them in a winning mood entering the holiday break.
A red hot #20 Morgan Hood, who has averaged 14 pts/6 rebs/1.5 stls per game, shot a heart stopping .470 from the field with 20 points in the win against Ingalls.
The Ingalls Bulldogs (4-1-0), despite the 36-28 loss to Bucklin, has had a standout season, averaging almost 50 points per contest, and limiting opponents to a measly 28-point per game average. Rebecca Wyatt, #30 has averaged more than 10 points per game and #11 Tara Whipple leads the teams offense with almost 12 points per game. The pre-break loss isn’t expected to affect a strong Bulldog team as the season stretches on.
Atop the division, the undefeated South Central Timberwolves (6-6-0) look almost unstoppable with a 57-point per game average, while keeping opponents at arms length with a 37-point average. Their “closest” loss was on Dec. 10 against Cherokee, Okla. (5-3-0) winning by 9 points. They are third in the 1A I state rankings behind Hoxie (5-0) and St. John (4-0).
The Mavs can gain ground on neighboring teams and try to push their way up the division, facing Ingalls on Jan. 17 on the road, Ashland on Feb. 7 at home and wrap up the regular season on Feb. 21 at home against Bucklin.
Friday’s contest is going to be a tone-setter for the Mavericks, who should come off an almost three week break well rested and ready to erase the memories of a tough and sluggish season start.
Some of the highlights of the season have been the performances of #23 Halie Headrick, #22 Riann Heft and #33 Angela Liggett.
Liggett leads the team in three categories, rebounds (5.7/per), steals (2.2/per) and blocks (1.2/per) and averaged 7 points per game in the first six contests.
Heft has been a consistent contributor in the paint on offense and defense, leading the team in assists with 1.5/per. She’s compiled 46 points thus far averaging almost eight points per game, with 3.3 rebounds per game, topping the teams offense in their Dec. 10 win against Macksville with 13 points shooting .454 from the foul line.
Headrick has been the top scorer for the Mavs, averaging 9.2/per with 55 season points. She’s had four double-digit games so far this season, Cunningham (10), Hoisington (12), Macksville (11) on 12/16 and Macksville (12) on 12/16.
On paper, the Mavs match up very well against the Wildcats. With the Mavs averaging 38.7 points per game to the Wildcats 35.7 points, Kiowa County also averages more rebounds per game, but Minneola top the Mavs in assists; Kiowa (5/per), Minneola (8.3/per) and steals; Kiowa (9.7/per), Minneola (14.3/per).
At the start of the season Lady Mavericks Head Coach Randy Vandenhoek hoped that his team would become the “defensive minded” team he thought could compete all season. During practice on Monday evening, Vandenhoek said he feels his team’s defense is headed in the right direction.
“For the most part we are solid on the man-to-man defense,” said Vandenhoek. “We’ve got to get to the point where we can switch defenses [during the game] and call it from the bench, without having to use up a timeout. We’re solid with our man-to-man, so that’s going to allow us to do some different things.”
He’s always maintained that this year’s team would struggle offensively and he says shooting has been a consistent challenge for this year’s squad.
“We’re not shooting real well. We’re back from break and we’ve had four really good practices and we’ve done an awful lot of shooting. I’ve seen some improvement. We’ve got to be able to put the ball in the whole better than we have been. Angela [Liggett] had a better game at Macksville just before the break. I felt like we had a little momentum going. I was really hoping we could play the Fairfield game [that was canceled by weather]. Although it’s going to fall into a good spot for us on the calendar.”
The Fairfield game has been rescheduled for Saturday Feb. 11.
The varsity men’s Maverick team return to play on Friday with an overall 2-3-1 record, putting the team on the bottom half of the league standings, atop Spearville (0-4-0), Pawnee Heights (0-3-0) and Ingalls (0-3-0). The Mavericks are nipping at the heals of the Fowler Goldbugs(2-1-0), the South Gray Rebels(3-1-0) and Bucklin (3-3-0) led by season standouts #23 Isaac Vasquez, with 85 points on the season, averaging 14.2/per and #4 Anthony Ledesma with 63 points on the year, averaging 12.6/per.
The Mavs will have a tough time climbing the division ladder, although eight of their 10 remaining games are against division rivals, giving them plenty of opportunities including playing three division rivals that have yet to win a single game this season (Spearville, Pawnee Heights and Ingalls).
But all roads to a strong finish lead through Minneola (2-2-0) who sit second in the division behind the Ashland Blue Jays (6-0-0) who are searching for their second consecutive undefeated division record. Per quarter, the Wildcats start slow but make adjustments in the middle two quarters, averaging 5, 13.5, 12.5 and 8 points in consecutive quarters, while the Mavericks have strong first halves and loose steam in the final quarter, averaging 10.3, 12, 11 and 8.8 in consecutive quarters.
The Mavericks have averaged 33.8 points per game behind #21 Rustin Ardery, 52 season points averaging 10.4/ per (.511 FG%), #4 Caleb Davis, 49 season points averaging 9.8/per (.360 FG%) and #25 Damien Odle, 44 season points averaging 8.8/per with a whopping .612 field goal percentage.
The Wildcats have averaged 40 points per game behind two big offensive players, #10 Brandy Shumate, 51 season points averaging 17/per (.580 FG%) and #14 Gary Stewart, 31 season points with 10.3/per (.433 FG%). Shumate can score in post, but also has shot .533 from the three-point line, sinking 8-of-15 on the season.
Shumate and Stewart are the top scoring players for Minneola, so the Mavericks shouldn’t be surprised at where the offensive is coming from.
“We’ve done fairly good,” said Mavericks Head Coach Nick Perez look at the season so far. “We’ve missed a lot of shots, guards and posts inside of the lane. I counted twelve shots we missed in the game against South Central. Against Macksville we missed eight or ten. We make those shots and the game is a little bit closer. When we’re missing bunny shots, it hard to win [those games].”
Looking at their schedule, Perez sees a slate of games that are very winnable.
“These next four or five games are going to be tough, but if we play as well as we are capable of playing we should get some wins,” Perez continued. “Minneola is tough. They are long and athletic, but they are beatable. Hodgeman County is the same thing. We know what to expect from them. Pawnee Heights, we should be able to beat. We have a chance to string together three, four or five wins before we head into the league tournament.”