Champion Wildcats roar at Marionville
Hoppes scores 1,000th career point
A fast start in the third quarter and a blazing finish in the the fourth sent the Cassville boys basketball team to a 66-55 win over Buffalo and a Marionville Tournament title on Saturday.
A big reason for both was the play of senior Ethan Hoppes.
After being saddled with foul trouble in the first half, Cassville leaned on his leadership to turn around a 32-26 halftime deficit.
“Ethan got to his second foul early, so he didn’t play much of the first and all of the second,” said Barrett Milleson, Cassville coach. “Credit goes to his teammates for sustaining us, and we didn’t create a huge hole with him off the floor. We found a way to compete and battle. Ethan came in fresh in the third, and it showed in the way he played in the second half.”
Hoppes helped spur a 13-5 run to open the frame, scoring 8 quick points and seeing D.J. White rip a 3-pointer and a layup to give the Wildcats a 39-37 advantage at the 4:54 mark of the third period.
Cassville took a 51-41 edge into the fourth quarter and let the lead slip when the Bison tied the game 55-55 with 2:33 remaining in regulation.
Again, it was Hoppes with back-to-back shots to give the Wildcats a 60-55 edge with 1:21 remaining in the game.
“We knew going into the fourth quarter that they were going to go on a run,” Hoppes said. “I told everyone to stay composed and stay together and we would be alright. We had some turnovers and bad plays, but we just kept battling out on the floor.”
The senior is like having another coach on the floor for Milleson, and the Wildcats are a different team because of Hoppes’ leadership.
“He has always been just a special kid and he can hurt in in so many ways,” Milleson said. “I think the real story about Ethan Hoppes is just his growth and maturity over the last four years. I can’t tell you how far he has come as a teammate, a leader of young men. He has put in the work and has earned the trust of his teammates.”
Hoppes also reached a career milestone of 1,000 points, something he knew he was close to coming into the game but did not let dictate his play.
“He wasn’t point-hunting tonight,” Milleson said. “He played a great second half, and that style is what we have come to expect from him.”
Both Hoppes and White were named to the All-Tournament team.
Milleson said the win really set the stage for the Wildcats as they make their push toward the new year.
“In my four years here, we haven’t won a tournament championship, so this is huge,” Milleson said. “This is our first one. I felt like we have had chances before, but we just have to keep putting ourselves in positions to be successful. I have preached to my kids that it is the process and not the product, and that if you buy into what we coach, things like this title can and will happen for us.”
The Wildcats opened the tournament with a 56-44 win over Greenfield and then a 52-50 squeaker over Marionville in the semifinal.
Scoring for the Wildcats in the championship: Hoppes, 21; White, 20; Luke Lowery, 11; Andrew Littlefield, 6; Evan Kessinger, 5; Dane Martin, 2; and Jarrod Wallace, 1.
Cassville opens the home portion of its schedule on Tuesday against Blue Eye.