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Both Mooseheart’s basketball teams had home games on Tuesday, with the boys falling to Hope Academy 78-24 in their season-opener while the girls lost 40-30 to Kirkland-Hiawatha in the first home contest of the campaign.
Mooseheart’s boys (0-1) played their game at the Mooseheart Field House, and were dominated early. Hope scored the first 20 points before Joey Leitner got the Ramblers on the board with 2 minutes left in the quarter. By halftime, the score was 49-8 and the visitors were well on their way to victory.
Still, Mooseheart boys basketball coach Pete Daneels saw some positive things from the season’s first competitive game.
“Hope is one of the better teams we’ll play all season and we put them on the schedule for that reason,” Daneels said. “This lets us know where we’re at from the beginning of the season. The goal of many teams is to be better at the end of the season than they are at the beginning.”
Styles Redmond led the Ramblers with 9 points while Joey Leitner added 6. Given the disparity in the score, both teams were able to play all players on their roster. For Mooseheart, this meant Daneels got a good look at his bench players, and he liked some of what he saw.
“Nelson (Doe) and Latif (Adeboyejo) came out and had a lot of energy,” Daneels said. “They’re JV players who were on the bench for the varsity game, and they played hard and we started to score and come back a little with their energy.”
With a very young team this season, Daneels said in-season improvement is one of the keys. Last year, the Ramblers started slowly, but finished well, something that could also be a template for this season.
“We graduated three players last year, including our MVP, Josh Gordon, who is hard to replace,” Daneels said. “We have three seniors and nine juniors and a lot of those juniors don’t have a lot of experience. We have 11 sophomores in the program, and some of those are our key players. Then we have a couple of freshmen we’ll rely on. I won’t use that as an excuse, but we are very young.”
While the boys were playing at the field house, the girls team competed at the Women of the Moose gym. Kirkland-Hiawatha jumped to a 14-4 lead after the first quarter, and kept that margin most of the contest.
“I told the girls that if we could keep it to within 10, we could give ourselves a shot down the stretch,” Mooseheart girls basketball coach Bryan Miller said. “We got close, but couldn’t capitalize on a number of possessions. We missed a lot of close shots tonight.”
Mooseheart (2-3) still closed to within 6 points in the fourth quarter before Michelle Percudani hit a key three-pointer for the visitors. Percudani led the Hawks with 25 points. Seven Ramblers scored in the contest, led by Nowai Kpartipa’s 11-point performance.
“(Kpartipa), she’s a very consistent player for us all-around,” Miller said. “Defensively, she gets tipped balls and steals. She gives us second opportunities to score.”
The Ramblers have an abundance of experienced talent on the roster, including key seniors Kpartipa, Aishah Adebayo, Mamie Barley and Destiny Lewis. Adebayo had 7 points against Kirkland Hiawatha.
“We’ve got a good core of seniors and the expectation is for them to go out and lead on and off the court,” Miller said. “If we continue to grow as we expect our team to and if a couple of our juniors get some role-playing time in there, we can have a nice season.”