By Jason Schock
Seniors Weston Witt and Jack Hartman combined for 45 points and the Falls City High School boys’ basketball team whipped Milford 58-49 Saturday afternoon in a game played on a neutral court in Auburn.
Witt finished with 22 points — and at one point was a perfect 3-for-3 from three-point land — as the C1 ninth-ranked Tigers (7-1) jumped out to a 17-4 lead and scored 23 points in the opening quarter on a Milford team that just one week ago remained unbeaten. No team had even come closer than 20 points to the Eagles prior to Christmas break, and they celebrated the holidays with a 78-61 win over Ord, during which sophomore guard Jaidon Policky drilled nine three-pointers (13 is the single-game state record, set by Jeff Wolfgram of Madison in 1989, in case you were wondering). Milford, though, lost by three to Wood River the following night in the Central City Holiday Tourney Championship and Saturday at Auburn High School, Policky scored all of five points and his team couldn’t touch the Tigers.
Milford, 21-4 and one win from the state tournament a year ago, held a significant size advantage and anchored a 1-3-1 zone with 6-5, 230-pound senior Daniel Mitchell in an effort to keep Falls City from running rampant up and down the floor. They dared the Tigers to beat them in the halfcourt and Witt, Hartman and the Tigers gladly accepted the challenge. After Witt drained a pair of threes in the final two minutes of the half, FC took a 33-21 lead into the locker room. The Tigers, coming off a 50-41 win over Lawson, MO, at the 100-team “Holiday Hoops” event at North Central Missouri College in Trenton, MO, hit 9-of-13 shots in the opening period and 14-of-24 throughout the first half. Witt’s 15 accounted for nearly half his team’s points.
“Weston’s a very confident player and a very smart, intelligent player. He really makes a lot of things happen for us,” FC Coach Don Hogue said.
The game turned into an official blowout in the third quarter. Following a breakaway layup by Hartman, two Witt free throws and a traditional three-point play by senior guard Jordy Stoller, the scoreboard read 44-25 Tigers with a minute left in the period. Hartman, who scored 13 of his game-high 23 points in the second half, drained a three-pointer with 30 seconds left in the third quarter to give FC a 47-25 lead, it’s biggest of the game.
“Jack has really come into his own,” Hogue said. “He’s expanded his range and is tough to defend. I think earlier in the year he was trying to do too much, but I think now he’s not forcing the issue.”
Hartman gave up an inch and perhaps 25 pounds to Mitchell, but used superior athleticism to win the battle in the paint. Mitchell finished with 17, much of them coming in the final period, with his team down 20 and Hartman resting on the bench. Senior Jake Mensik led the Eagles with 20 points in the game.
Hogue substituted heavily in the fourth quarter and Milford clawed its way back, but only to make the score look more respectable. It wasn’t a single-digit game until the final seconds ticked off the clock. Hogue praised the play of his bench – seven different players appeared in all four quarters and two others played in three of the four frames.
Hogue called it the best win of the year thus far for his team.
“We really felt like they could give us some match-up problems,” Hogue said, “but tonight we got off to a fast start. I’m happy with the way we came out and hit them in the mouth. This is just what we needed.”
The Tigers now have four consecutive home dates: Tuesday vs. Marysville, KS; Thursday vs. Johnson-Brock; Tuesday, Jan. 13, vs. Auburn, and Friday, Jan. 16, vs. Maryville, MO. The next road game is Jan. 16 at Elmwood-Murdock.
FC — Gibson, 1; Pentecost, 3; Leafty, 4; Hartman, 23; Witt, 22; Jordening, 2; Stoller, 3.
Milford — Gerlach, 4; Polickey, 5; Hauder, 3; Mensik, 20; Mitchell, 17.