ANAMOSA - Coming so close so many times to getting their first win, the Anamosa boys basketball team hasn’t allowed frustration to set in during the first few weeks of the 2019-20 campaign.

      Instead, the Raiders continued to get back to work improving their game, and it was that never-say-die attitude that allowed them to fight through a roller coaster contest against visiting West Liberty Friday, Dec. 20.

      “This was a great night for our kids,” said Anamosa boys basketball coach Kevin Barnes, as his team used a big third quarter spurt to claim their first victory of the season taking a 61-41 rout over the Comets.

      “I am so happy they got a win. We talk all the time about preparing to be successful. If you prepare to be successful and you execute that plan, winning will take care of itself. I think this group has been doing that. Our execution for 32-minutes hasn’t been good. Against West Liberty we didn’t play well offensively for 32-minutes and we did not play well defensively for the first few minutes, but I thought we fought for 32-minutes.”

      Through the first five minutes, it appeared Anamosa (1-7, 1-6) was going to be in for another nail biter heading right down to the wire as the two teams battled to a 7-7 tie, but when the Raiders closed the opening quarter going on a 6-0 run, there was very little the Comets could do to slow them down the rest of the night.

      “We started the game with another man down,” Barnes said. “We decided not to play Trae (Klatt) because of a nagging injury he’s been dealing with. Then, two of our starters had to sit a lot of the first half with foul trouble, and both of them were our point guards, so we had to have some kids really step up in the first half.”

      And they did.

      Caleb Otting, Jake Jess, Seth Schoon, Andrew Morris, Kole Dietiker and Sage Hoyt all rose to the occasion, as the Raiders began to take control of the game in the second stanza, even with two key players forced to the bench.

      “Caleb stepped in at the point and I thought played very well,” Barnes said. “Seth hit a couple of shots in the first half and Jake made a couple of lay-ups early. We got the ball to Andrew inside a couple of times and he got himself to the line. I also thought during that stretch, Kole and Sage gave us good minutes off the bench with our foul trouble. We scored enough points to be up 11 at the half.”

      The hosts used a 15-10 second quarter run to lead 28-17 at the break, then kept attacking in the second half to blow the game wide open.

      “The second half Sam (Wilt) and Eli (Lehrman) got us off to a good start and all of a sudden we were up 22. It stayed there the rest of the night.”

      Anamosa opened the second half going on an 11-2 run and never looked back, leading 48-28 at the third quarter horn.

      “I thought Nick Wagner was just terrific, too,” Barnes said. “He had career highs for both points (8) and rebounds (7) and went 4-for-4 from the free throw line. I was really pleased with him, and everyone. This is a great way to go into the break.”

      The Raiders used balanced scoring to handle the Comets as Lehrman led the way tallying 13 points while Jess and Schoon chipped in with 10 more each.

      The Raiders started their week with a huge contest against rival Monticello Tuesday, Dec. 17, as the Panthers brought not only one of their best teams in school history to Anamosa, but are also one of the best teams in the River Valley Conference and the state of Iowa in class 2A.

      “We saw a group of players from Monticello who have worked extremely hard at the game of basketball,” said Barnes, as his team succumbed to a 72-47 setback at the hands of the talented Panthers.

      “They play the game year round, and it shows. They have a very good team. A lot of those kids are in their third year of varsity basketball, and that also shows.”

      Monticello jumped on the Raiders from the get-go, leading 18-9 after one quarter before the hosts settled down in the second stanza to trail 32-20 at the half.

      “We easily could have been in a much tighter game at the half, but we left some points out on the floor,” Barnes said. “We took some rushed shots with their pressure defense. We had been better at that of late, but against Monticello we just lost our discipline offensively.”

      The third quarter saw the two teams combine to score 37 points with the visitors using a 22-15 spurt to take a commanding 54-35 lead into the final frame.

      Wilt had a big night for the Raiders in front of the big crowd scoring a team-high 21 points drilling four of Anamosa’s seven total 3-point shots. Morris ripped down a team-best seven rebounds and had two blocked shots.

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