Musketeers Go 3-0 in Final Week of Regular Season; Lose First Round of Regionals

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Jayden Birkner, Staff Writer

The Musketeers had 3 games in their final week of the regular season. All of them were very winnable games and they were hoping to end the regular season on a positive note.

Their first game was against the New Athens Yellow Jackets. The Musketeers had beaten the Jackets 57-42 in their previous matchup, but they knew it would not be an easy win this time around since the game was played in New Athens.

The first quarter started out slow offensively for both teams. Both teams were missing very open shots. The Jackets put in the first bucket with 3 minutes left in the quarter. The Musketeers took the lid off of the bucket and put in 8 points before the quarter ended. They led 8-6 heading into the second.

The Musketeers turned up the intensity in the second quarter. They forced the Jackets to commit many turnovers which led to easy transition buckets for the Musketeers. Wyatt Cowell put in 6 in the quarter. The Musketeers led 23-12 going into the break.

The Musketeers kept a 10 point lead throughout the entire quarter and never let the Jackets cut into their deficit. Carter Wiegard put in 2 3-pointers in the quarter. The Musketeers took a 35-25 lead going into the final quarter.

The Musketeers struggled in the final quarter offensively, only scoring 2 2-point baskets. Their defense fell off and allowed the Jackets to get back into the game, cutting the deficit to 3 at one point. The Musketeers missed many free throws down the stretch, but luckily made enough to get the win. They just snuck by with a win 50-48.

Their next matchup was against the East Alton-Wood River Oilers. The game had been cancelled a few weeks prior due to the weather.

The Musketeers started the game out pretty strong offensively. Alex Kueker put in 7 and Wiegard put in 5 in the quarter. Their defense played decently, but could have been better as they had some lazy breakdowns. The Musketeers led 16-11 heading into the second.

The Musketeers extended their lead in the early part of the second quarter, but could not keep their big lead throughout the whole quarter. The Oilers began putting pressure on the Musketeers defensively and forced them to commit bad turnovers, which let the Oilers back into the game. Kueker hit a 3 at the buzzer to put the Musketeers up 28-24 going into the break.

The Musketeers played excellent defense in the third quarter, only allowing 4 points. Offensively, they scored 10 of their own. Jayden Birkner and Bryce Amann both put in 2 point baskets in the quarter as they took a 38-28 lead going into the final quarter. The Musketeers almost let the Oilers back into the game with unforced turnovers and transition buckets, but luckily they hit their free throws down the stretch and won the game 50-42. Wiegard finished with 13 and Kueker finished with 14.

The final regular season game of the year was against the Dupo Tigers. They had beaten the Tigers by a large margin in their last matchup and were hoping for the same result again.

The Musketeers came out strong with a lot of intensity. They put a lot of pressure on the Tigers ball handlers forcing them to turn the ball over, which then led to easy fastbreak points for the Musketeers. Wiegard put in 9 points in the quarter and Amann put in 4. The second quarter was much of the same as the Musketeers continued building their lead by forcing turnovers and getting easy buckets. They led 40-14 going into half.

The Musketeers intensity greatly slowed down in the second half. They didn’t extend their lead but did not let the Tigers back into the game. The Musketeers only scored 8 in the third and 13 in the fourth. However, they played well enough defensively to keep a large margin and win the game 61-32. Wiegard finished with 22.

The Musketeers hosted the regional and their first round matchup was against the Belleville Althoff Crusaders. The Crusaders record was not as good as the Musketeers, but the competition they played was much better.

The first quarter started with a lot of intensity from both teams. Bryce Amann put in the first basket of the night for both teams with a bucket from the post. However, the Crusaders hit a few 3-pointers in the quarter to get off to an early lead. The Musketeers were struggling to secure rebounds which led to second chance opportunities for the Crusaders. They led the Musketeers 18-9 at the end of the first.

The Musketeers had to step it up if they wanted to remain in the game. They continued to have trouble with the pressure the Crusaders were putting on them. Amann put in another layup in the quarter. The Musketeers were reeling towards the end of the quarter and needed a bucket to stay in the game. Kueker found Wiegard on a lob to the rim and he put it in for 2 at the end of the half. The Musketeers trailed 33-20.

Unfortunately, the Musketeers could not find a way back into this game. The Crusaders put in the first 3 baskets of the half to extend their lead ever further. The Musketeers continued battling hard for the rest of the half, even getting the deficit down to just 9 points. However, it would not be enough as the Musketeers would fall 55-32. Kueker finished with 11 and Amann finished with 9.

The Musketeers finished their season with a 13-19 record, a 10 game improvement over last year. Wiegard was the leading scorer, Kueker the leading rebounder, and Birkner the leading assist man. This group of seniors loved the game of basketball more than anything and it will be hard for them to move on. However, they can be satisfied knowing they left it all they had on that court. Great season boys.