Bouncing back

Millard West basketball moves to 1-1 on the new season


Photo by David Rochford

Senior Reese Kolar dribbles the ball out the court. Kolar totaled 12 points on four for four shooting behind the three point line, however, with many new faces on the Wildcats team the win means more than personal stats. “For almost all of us, this is our first time playing real varsity minutes,” Kolar said. “It was important to get the first-game nerves out of the way. It feels great to be growing closer together as a team and to get a win. We’re learning each other’s skills and it’s beginning to translate into success.”

Joseph Ebmeier, Staff Reporter

After a crushing overtime defeat to North Platte, the Millard West varsity basketball team was looking for a measure of revenge as they traveled to Fremont High School on Dec. 4, to take on Fremont.

The game started with the Wildcats winning the tipoff and taking it down the floor where junior Peyton Moore scored the first points of the game and gave Millard West a 2-0 lead. After a few possessions, Fremont bound the basket with a three pointer to take the lead. Fremont utilized a full court press throughout the first quarter and was able to force many turnovers and quickly gained a 6-2 advantage. 

After the slow start, the Wildcats were able to get a pair back as junior Cole Kirschner was fouled and made both free throws, making the score 6-4. However, Fremont stretched their lead back out as they made a three pointer and a layup to take a 11-4 lead. The Wildcats then came back with a layup and three of their own to narrow the gap to 11-9. Both teams began to heat up as the quarter was winding down and they found themselves tied at 17 with less than a minute remaining. It looked like the quarter would end that way, but Fremont made a layup at the buzzer to take a 19-17 lead heading into the second quarter.

“In the first quarter, Fremont made 4 threes and got a few baskets on second-chance points.” Kolar said. “Their full-court man-to-man press gave us some problems and they ended the quarter on a buzzer-beating layup. We stayed confident knowing that we could play better by closing out on shooters and boxing out.”

Fremont started the second quarter with the ball, and after a miss by both teams senior Avery Moore swatted a Fremont layup off the backboard and was fouled in transition. Avery Moore made one of his two free throws giving Fremont a slim one point advantage. After a Fremont layup quickly followed by a senior Reese Kolar three, the game was knotted up at 21. Another Fremont layup and another made three by Kolar, Millard West held a slim one point advantage. After a multiple of fouls by each team the score became tied at 27. A Kolar three pointer gave Millard West its first lead of the game since the first points and from there the Wildcats took off. Millard West found the bucket a number of times throughout the rest of the quarter while the defense was creating turnovers and misses. When the buzzer rang, the Wildcats had a 37-30 lead going into halftime.

“In the second quarter, we relaxed a little bit on offense and found the open man,” Kolar said. “My teammates found me when I was open behind the three-point line and I knocked down some shots. They kept encouraging me and told me to keep shooting, which kept my confidence high. On defense, we made it a goal to contest the three-pointers more aggressively, and this helped us regain the lead.”

Fremont started with the ball coming out of the half but missed their opening shot. Off the miss, the Wildcats grabbed the rebound and Kirschner got a layup in transition, making the score 39-30. Following this, Fremont hit a three pointer narrowing the gap to 39-33. The Wildcats then went on a massive run consisting of many multiple three pointers mixed in with a few layups. With a minute remaining in the quarter the Wildcats had escaped to a 58-40 lead. As the clock was winding down, Fremont was able to make a three pointer to narrow the gap slightly, but as the buzzer sounded to end the quarter, Millard West still had a 15 point lead.

Millard West got the ball to start the fourth quarter and quickly junior Cole Butler made a jump shot to push the Wildcats to a 60-43 lead. A strong stretch of scoring by both teams quickly made the score 65-51 where Millard West took a timeout. Following the timeout, Avery Moore stole the ball and raced down the court for a dunk. Another scoring outburst by each team jumped the score to 71-59 where Fremont took a timeout. After the break, junior Jaidyn Gaius-Anyaegbu was fouled and sent to the free throw line where he made one of his two shots. This was followed by a Fremont three pointer which forced the Wildcats to call another timeout. After the timeout the game became the Peyton Moore show. The next three Wildcat buckets were made by him while Fremont only tallied two makes as a team. With 10 seconds left, junior Zac Grandgenett was fouled and made both of his free throws. Fremont attempted a three pointer at the buzzer but it fell short, and the horn sounded to signal the end of the game with Millard West on top 80-66.

“My teammates looking to pass, be unselfish and be team players allowed me to score,” Peyton Moore said. “It feels good to get our record back even and we will keep learning from game to game.”

This is the Wildcats first win of the season and pushes their record to 1-1 after dropping their first game of the season. The Wildcats leading scorer was Kirschner who tallied 18 points on 86% shooting. However the Wildcat player of the game was Avery Moore, who scored seven points, along with seven rebounds, 13 assists, two steals and three blocks.

Millard West will be back in action this Friday where they will take on the Bellevue East Chieftains at home as they look to improve their record to 2-1.