Another tough season

Millard West boys basketball goes 8-15


Photo courtesy Anna Burton

During Millard West’s 74-66 loss to Elkhorn South, the Wildcats found themselves in a position to pull ahead, but were unable to do so. Junior Jordan Gassen (5), senior Zac Grandgenett (22), junior Cooper Fortune (23), senior Peyton Moore (12) and senior Jaden Giaus (14) all were crucial in the teams upset-watch game against the Storm. “We had so many close games throughout the season, each loss was a tough one every single time,” Gassen said. “I was happy we were able to finally get that win against Omaha Central. All of our seniors this year have been great teammates, and it was a pleasure playing with them, and I will miss you next year”. Though the team went 8-15, there is still a lot of promise going into next year.

Logan Moseley, Broadcast Editor-In-Chief, Striv Executive Producer

Following their close 62-68 loss against Lincoln Southwest in the first round of Districts, the Millard West Wildcats wrapped up their season at 8-15. While the team finished with a -35 point differential, their lack of wins were not due to skill, but not being able to close games, as they averaged 55 points per game, but allowed 57 on average.

As with 2021, Millard West started their season with a close loss, but this time to Lincoln East, 55-53. West dropped the following game to Westside 46-40, before getting back to back wins against Bryan and Benson, to start the season at 2-2.

The next four games would be tough for the Wildcats, and they would drop all four games, those being against Millard North (61-47), Creighton Prep (40-39), Lincoln Southwest (72-65) and Elkhorn South (61-59), before finally getting a win against Bellevue East, 65-40, putting them at 3-6. 

It was around this time we saw the starting lineup change. To begin the year, the starting five consisted of seniors Cole Kirchner, Peyton Moore, Jayden Gaius-Aneygbu and Zac Grandgenett alongside junior Max Frohloff. While Grandgenett was the team’s scorer, he shot 34% from the field, leading coach Morrison to turn to the six-man shooter, junior Jordan Gassen.

“You know, I just had to trust the coach’s game plan and be a team player and still try to make the most of an opportunity,” Gassen said. “Next year I hope we win some more games and eventually make it to State. I know we have some guys coming up and coming back so it should be fun.”

Millard West would once again go on another losing skid, as Papio South (50-44), Bellevue West (70-42)  and Lincoln Southeast (76-70) all handed the Wildcats tough loss after tough loss. But there was a silver lining. Bellevue West was a nationally ranked Top 25 team, and it was a rough first quarter where the Wildcats could only manage one point that dug them in, and Lincoln Southeast was an overtime loss where the team’s size played a role in them not being able to finish off the game. But once again the skid ended with an overtime win over Bellevue East, putting the Wildcats at 4-9. 

“To always continue and fight,” Moore said. “With all the adversity we had this year, that is what I have talked to the younger guys about on the bench this year, “I think they learned a lot from the atmosphere and so hopefully that helps them next year.”

While it would be hard for the team to come back and try and make a run to the State tournament, they fought and fought. In close losses to Millard South (57-55) and Gretna (53-43), it was once again a mix of a young team and a size disadvantage. However, Millard West would finally get into a rhythm, as they went 3-1 going into a brutal stretch. It started with yet another overtime loss to a big team, this time, Elkhorn South, 74-66. Then, their hearts were broken on Valentine’s Day, as Westside became Cupid from beyond the arc, as the Warriors shot a staggering 46% from 3, which accounted for 45% of the teams points that night in the 86-61 loss. 

But it all came down to senior night. Millard West was down, but never out, throughout the season. Fighting through every single game, and a chance for all five seniors, Gauis, Grandgenett, Kirchner, Moore and Cole Butler, to have their moment. Omaha Central, coming off a state tournament appearance, was hoping to get another run at it, but they needed the win to help boost their chances. The game started the same as any other did. Back and forth, both teams trying to break each other. But this time it was different. Surrounded by their friends and family, the seniors finally got their statement win, an even sweeter one on senior night, taking down the Eagles 57-51.

“I would say my senior moment had to have been during the Central game,” Kirchner said. “We were tied and I hit a big three and it just felt amazing.”

While the Wildcats would fall in the first round of Districts, this group of seniors finally got the senior day win for the first time in two years.