GOOSE LAKE - For fans who have followed the Anamosa boys basketball team through the first two weeks of the 2019-20 campaign, there’s no doubting the Raiders are a better team now that they were a mere two weeks ago.
Sometimes, especially for young teams like the Anamosa boys are this season, that can be tough to see.
But Raider boys basketball coach Kevin Barnes sees it clearly, after witnessing his team battle for four intense quarter at Northeast Tuesday, Dec. 10.
“We continue to make progress,” said Barnes, as his team gave themselves a shot at the host Rebels, only to come out on the short end of a 59-52 final.
“It’s hard to see when you aren’t winning games yet, but we did some really good things against Northeast. They are the best team we’ve seen to this point and we gave ourselves a chance to win.”
Anamosa (0-6, 0-5) never backed down from the Northeast challenge all night long, battling to 12-12 and 20-20 ties at the first and halftime horns, respectively.
The Rebels opened an eight-point third quarter lead and appeared ready to take control of the contest only to see the Raiders battle back trimming the deficit to three points late in the frame.
“I thought we really battled,” Barnes said. “We had a tough end of the third and an even tougher beginning of the fourth, and we easily could have quit right then, but we battled back.
“We had the ball in our hands down four with two-minutes to go. We didn’t execute well on that possession and we need to continue to grow in that area.”
Northeast closed the third quarter going on a 5-0 run to lead 38-30 entering the fourth quarter and stretched their lead to double-digits for the first time in the final frame before the late Anamosa spurt.
“We made 3-pointers tonight as well,” said Barnes, as his tam drilled nine of them in the game, led by two each from Sam Wilt and Jake Jess.
“I really think we are capable of shooting better as a team than we have been, and hopefully this game allows us to start to turn the corner.”
Wilt finished with a game-high 20 points while also pulling down 10 rebounds to go with three assists and two steals. Andrew Morris added nine points while Jess and Trae Klatt chipped in with seven points each. Klatt also dished out a team-high four assists.
“Sam has been really terrific so far this season,” Barnes said. “I feel like he gets better every time out. He’s playing the point guard now with Grahm (Humpal) out and that is really a new challenge for him. Our hope is, as he gets more comfortable in that role, we will continue to see our point totals increase.”
The Raiders continued to road show at Durant Friday, Dec. 13, and in a game that featured a whopping 161 total points, including 54 in the opening quarter alone, Anamosa came up just short in a tough 87-74 decision.
“Man, this one hurts,” said Barnes, as his team came out on firing on all cylinders scoring 31 first quarter points and led 31-23 at the first horn.
“We came out on fire like I have never seen before. We started the game on a 10-0 run and then were off to a good start in the second quarter as well leading 36-25. Then Sam picked up his third foul and we struggled the remainder of the half.”
Wilt came back into the game at the end of the second quarter and drilled a 3-pointer at the buzzer that ended a 18-1 Wildcat run as the Raiders trailed 43-40 at the break.
The second half was as wild as the first as both offenses continued to shine.
“Durant came out in a box-and-1 on Sam, but Trae really stepped up and made some buckets for us,” Barnes said. “The Jake caught fire as well and after one of his three’s we tied the score at 62 all. But we just could not get over the hump.”
Durant went on a 6-0 run to take a 68-62 lead they would not lose the rest of the night.
“It’s a little crazy that our strength through the first four games this season was our defense,” Barnes said. “It has absolutely kept us in game and given us chances to win, but in this game, we just could not get a stop, let alone string any stops together.”
The Wildcats used a 25-17 fourth quarter spurt to gain a little separation from the Raiders.
Klatt powered the Anamosa offense scoring a career-high 20 points while Wilt added 17 more. Jess came through with a career-best 14 for the visitors.
The Raiders’ long three-game road stretch ended at Beckman Saturday, Dec. 14, as a rough second half offensively cost the team in a 65-40 loss in Dyersville.
“Wow, what a first half,” said Barnes, as his team used a big 14-5 second quarter spurt to lead 24-23 at the half.
“Trailing 22-12 we finished the half on a 14-3 run and led by one at the half. The second half did not go as well.”
The Blazers came out of the break and completely took control with a huge 24-6 third quarter spurt that had the hosts in command heading into the final stanza leading 47-30.
“I thought we battled, but everyone just played tired,” Barnes said. “Every loose ball ended up in our hands the first half, but we were a step slow in the second. I just feel like we wore down.”
Wilt’s 12 points paced a struggling Raider offense while Eli Lehrman added eight more.
“This was a brutal way to start the season,” Barnes said. “In the last 11 days, we have had six games and only four practices. Just not enough this early with this young team. We are looking to get practices in now, and get better.”