SATURDAY, Feb. 4, 2023
ALTOONA-MIDWAY MIDDLE SCHOOL BASKETBALL
ALTAMONT – Knowledgeable sports purists understand that true success is not measured by wins and losses against an opponent, but by measuring improvement over the course of a season.
Still, reality demonstrates that it’s more fun to win than to lose.
Well – by either measurement – the Altoona-Midway Middle School basketball teams closed out their respective 2022-23 seasons on a successful note Thursday here at the Mineral Belt League Tournament.
Both AMMS teams posted victories in their final game of the season. The Jets split a pair of contests in the boys’ tournament bracket, falling 33-21 to Chetopa but then rebounding to take a 17-14 decision over Elk Valley.
Meanwhile, the AMMS girls won their lone tourney matchup, rolling past Elk Valley 17-2. It was their only contest since the Chetopa girls were unable to participate in the league tournament.
The Altoona-Midway girls finished the season 3-9 overall, but they also finished on a two-game winning streak. Their 17-2 victory over Elk Valley in the MLB tournament was a rematch of their 8-4 win earlier in the week over the same opponent.
“The girls came out to win and that’s exactly what they did,” said an elated AMMS head coach Amanda Odell. “They worked the offense, shot the ball and played awesome defense.”
In fact, the AMMS defense posted a shutout until the final period. The Lady Jets led 4-0 at the quarter, 8-0 at halftime, and 15-0 entering the final stanza, when each team added a bucket.
Sandra Morales paced Altoona-Midway with seven points. Bella Douglas chipped in four, while Destiny Raymond, Brooklynn Collins and Jasa Pankaskie each added two points.
Morales and Collins also pulled down five and four rebounds, respectively, while Douglas was credited with five steals.
“I cannot say enough how proud I am of each and every one of these girls,” Odell said. “We all grew together as a team and they grew as individuals as well. This group of girls felt like family to me and I am going to miss them so much. I cannot wait to watch these girls grow not only as athletes but as individuals.”
The Jets (2-11) split a pair of games in the Mineral Belt League Tournament. However, that split still gave them two wins in their final three appearances of the season.
Altoona-Midway opened tourney action dropping a 33-21 decision against Chetopa. But the Jets rebounded to post a 17-14 triumph over Elk Valley. Earlier in the week, the Jets had defeated the Lions 31-12 for their first win of the year.
“It was a great night overall,” said AMMS head coach David Batzer. “We had to play back-to-back games and the second game came down to the last shot. Even though our guys were exhausted they managed to finish strong and come out on top. I kept challenging them to win the next two minutes of the game, to hustle, and to fight through the adversity of being tired. They responded admirably.”
In the opener, Chetopa used their size advantage inside to secure the 33-21 win.
Chance Carter had nine points and seven rebounds for the Jets, while Zach Good finished with six points, Caden Sicka had four, and Chance Mustain two.
“We got down early and never could climb back into the game,” Batzer said. “We made a nice run to cut it to four at the start of the second half but Chetopa responded and pushed it back out to 10. It was a back and forth game but we just couldn’t do the little things that would have made it a closer game. Still, I was really proud of how competitive the boys were.”
The Jets had no time to lick their wounds, as they had to stay on the court to face Elk Valley. AMMS responded to the challenge, winning the nip-and-tuck struggle 17-14. The Jets led 8-6 at halftime, and the game was tied at 12 entering the final stanza before Altoona-Midway outlasted the Lions and pulled out the victory.
Carter and Good paced the Jets attack with seven and six points, respectively. AMMS also got key buckets from Caleb Kuhn and Sicka.
Carter hauled down another 11 rebounds for the Jets.
“This was a fantastic basketball game,” Batzer said. “Everyone was productive for us in this game, and with the short turnaround between games we knew we had to have a complete team game to give us a chance to win. Caleb (Kuhn) scored his first A-team points of the year, and he was all over the place on defense. That’s just another example of how far we’ve come as a team.
“It was great to end the season with a victory, but the takeaway for the team wasn’t about wins and losses, but rather about improvement and team chemistry,” Batzer said. “All seven boys will be back next year, and that’s really exciting. From top to bottom I couldn’t be more proud of what we accomplished this year, and I’m looking forward to bigger and better things next season.”