The Kit Carson (4-3) boys’ team traveled south just 20 miles to the Eagles’ Nest, the home of the Eads (4-5) Eagles, for the first game of the 2023 regular season. It was business right out of the chute as this would be the first conference game for both organizations. In the end, the Eads boys would grab the important win, 44-33, in a hard-fought battle in front of a packed crowd of spectators.
The Eagles then grabbed a too-close-for-comfort non-conference win over Walsh, 40-37 on Saturday night. The Wildcats bounced back on Saturday winning a road game over Kiowa, 49-25.
The place was packed in Eads on Friday night as the GN-Bank in Eads covered the gate admission for all fans in anticipation of beginning the regular basketball season. The Eads boys came in strong and scored 21 points in the first quarter, seemingly blowing the Wildcats out the doors as they could only muster 6 initial points. Eads used 5 long balls in the first period with two apiece coming from Connor Wollert and Brentley Lening.
But the Wildcats’ coach Damon Dechant made some adjustments into the second quarter and the Eads boys started running out of gas as they were utilizing just 6-7 players due to an injury to senior AJ Vasquez. But the offense slowed down dramatically when Eads only managed one lone three ball from post player Case Nelson in the second quarter. The Kit Carson offense didn’t do much better in the second stanza but did get six points from senior Paul Mitchek that helped keep the Wildcats alive. By halftime Eads led 24-14.
Coming out in the third quarter the Wildcats outscored Eads, 12-9, getting a deuce and a trey from freshman Bryson States and a couple of buckets from Josiah Irwin. Eads scattered their scoring in the third getting one field goal apiece from Porter Spady, Kadan Dunlap, Stockton Mitchek and Nelson.
Eads still had a decent lead, but knew they had to pick up their efforts if they wanted to hold onto the lead against the feisty Wildcat group. The Eagles would hit three long balls, one each from Conner Wollert, Lening, and Nelson, that allowed them to hold onto the lead to the end of the contest.
Nelson led all players with 12 points, including a couple of three balls. Wollert added 11 points and pulled down 4 rebounds. The senior also added 2 assists and 3 steals.
Lening added 9 points, all in long balls, and added 3 assists and 3 steals.
Mitchek had a strong game with 5 points, 5 assists and 2 steals.
Spady added 5 points, had 3 rebounds, 3 assists and 4 steals.
For the Wildcats it was sophomore Keaton Marriott and Irwin leading the way with 8 points apiece. States added 7, as did Paul Mitchek. Brennan Framel added a bucket and Alex Mitchek hit 1-of-2 free throws.
Eads found themselves in a serious fight on Saturday in Eads when the Eagles from Walsh came to town. Eads definitely underestimated the Walsh group who came into the game with a dismal 1-7 season record, but they did blow up South Baca the night before, 51-24, in their first conference game of the season. Eads had seen the Walsh group at the Border Wars in early December where they were devastated by all three Kansas teams. Then, at the Lamar Holiday Tournament Walsh finished dead last losing to Holly (61-47), Wiley (53-17), and Kit Carson (43-26).
But that pre-season Walsh group was not the Walsh group that showed up in the Eads gym on Saturday. The Walsh boys grabbed the first half lead, 25-20, after they outscored Eads in the first quarter and the second quarter. The first half was controlled by Leyton Jones, who hit a couple of jumpers and two long balls, and Gavin McCall who hit a couple of three-balls and a deuce. Add in the post play of Lane Runkle and the Walsh group had another possible win brewing.
But Eads’ head coach Weston Meardon adjusted things at halftime and Eads was then able to hold down Jones and McCall to a single long ball in the entire second half. Runkle, then was still effective against the much smaller Eads players.
The third quarter was the key as the Eagles tied the game at the end of the third with a three ball from Lening, a couple of jumpers by Mitchek and two charity shots by Spady. The final quarter was a lesson in why making your free throws is so important. Eads had the lead going down the stretch and forced Walsh to foul. Spady and Wollert took care of business going perfect from the free throw line in the final minute of the contest securing the win.
The Eads group dodged a bullet from Walsh despite the fact Eads shot a dismal 14% from the three-point arc. But the saving grace was their 10-for-13 (77%) performance from the free throw line.
Spady produced a beautiful game with a double-double hitting for 16 points and pulling down 11 rebounds. The junior guard also added 5 assists and 5 steals.
Wollert had 6 points, 5 rebounds and 3 assists. Lening was in double figures with 13 points, including 3 long balls. The junior also added 3 steals. Mitchek had 4 points. Nelson pulled down 6 rebounds and had 3 steals.
On Saturday, Kit Carson joined Eads with a win as the Wildcats were in Kiowa for a non-conference game. Kit Carson’s defense controlled Kiowa in the first half allowing only 3 points total with the halftime score being, 18-3. The Wildcats used the free throw line to gain the advantage as they were on the line 15 times in the first half alone. Irwin led the offensive attack going 4-for-5 from the charity line and adding three jumpers and a trey in the first half.
The Wildcats continued to score well in the third period with States, Irwin, and Marriott controlling the outside play and Alex Mitchek establishing his presence down low. Irwin went off in the final quarter hitting five jumpers.
Kiowa did make a run in third period, but the Cats controlled them in the final quarter allowing only six points.
Irwin had the best game of his career with 28 points including 10 field goals and was 5-for-7 from the free throw line.
States added 7 points, Alex Mitchek put in 6 points and Paul Mitchek chipped in 5 more points.
The Eagles are idle this coming week and won’t be back on the floor until they welcome Stratton to Eads on Friday, January 21. They will then travel to Idalia on Saturday, January 22. Both games are non-conference contests.
Kit Carson will travel to Wiley on Friday, January 13 and then host Hi-Plains on Saturday, January 14. Both of those games are also non-conference matchups.