By Matt Lofgren | Correspondent
Staying focused on basketball during the holiday season is often tough for most teams, but Mogadore came out strong and avoided a setback on Friday by defeating visiting Southington Chalker 91-47.
It was Wildcats against Wildcats, with the green-and-white of Mogadore staying focused as a team to earn the victory, despite all the distractions that come this time of year.
"You never know what to expect this time of year with the holiday break and just things are so different for the kids' schedules," Mogadore coach Russ Swartz said. "We were real pleased with our effort and obviously the outcome. I thought we really did a good job of shooting the basketball and doing the things we needed to do."
Getting a total team effort from his players was something that Swartz stressed with so many things happening this time of year. Coming into the gym twice on game day was something that really paid for Mogadore.
"You get together as often as you can in terms of practice," Swartz said. "We got in here at 11 (a.m.) just to get them going a little bit. Then we came back at 4:30 to eat and so forth and got them on the court. But there's just so much going on for everybody in terms of their own personal lives and family lives, then when you get them here they have to be focused."
Friday's game for Mogadore was a great team-effort win, with most of the Wildcats' points coming from bench players.
Senior Austin Mahoney and junior Casey Ruppel came off the bench when Swartz called their numbers and provided some instant offense. Ruppel scored 15 points, including three long 3-pointers, while Mahoney added 12 points.
"I just try to trust my faith in benefitting the team," Mahoney said. "I just try and do my best even though I'm coming in off the bench. I consider myself like James Harden," Mahoney joked.
The Wildcats forced turnovers all game long and worked diligently in the transition game to earn the win. Forcing 32 turnovers in the game, Mogadore had 45 points off of those turnovers.
"We are at our best offensively when we can score in transition," Swartz said. "You score out of transition when you get defensive stops, whether it's rebounds or force turnovers, and we've got to get easy baskets to be effective offensively and we did that tonight."
By the start of the fourth quarter, Mogadore was on top 67-29. This proved to be the perfect time for Swartz to see what his younger players could do against the varsity of Chalker.
"Those are guys we are counting on next year," Swartz said. "We had a few juniors and sophomores get some playing time, which is good. They played over six minutes in the fourth quarter."
Including Mahoney and Ruppel, Mogadore had a total of four players in double-figures. Seniors Brandon Morris and Kasey Beard each added 11 points.