This article was written in January 2016, when the Maquoketa High School freshmen boys basketball team sported a 10-0 record in the WaMaC and a 10-2 record overall. It provided an early glimpse at the talents of the 2018-19 varsity team.
There’s a common saying in sports: “Winning isn’t everything.”
Ask the Maquoketa boys freshman basketball team, and they’ll tell you: It sure feels good.
Head coach Chance Jenkins and the Cardinals currently sport a 10-2 overall record and an unblemished 10-0 record against WaMaC competition. While there’s plenty of season left to play, Jenkins and crew are playing at a high level.
“I think the thing that makes this team so successful is that they do not care who scores or who has the best stats for the game,” Jenkins said. “They all do their jobs and are willing to sacrifice for the team.”
The stats speak for themselves.
Abram Becker, a sharpshooting guard, leads the team with 14.8 points per game. He takes care of the scoring. The back court duo of Macklin Shanahan and Kane Kopp roam around the perimeter, making passes and dribble drives when the defense warrants it. Shanahan leads the team with 3.4 assists per game. And, Nicholas Ehlinger and Kane Kopp lead the team in steals. Nathan Watters, their all-effort center, averages 9.1 rebounds and 9.2 points per game and has notched four double-doubles this season.
That’s a recipe for success — unselfish basketball that works like a well-oiled machine.
They’ve played together for a while, and it’s paying off.
“This team’s overall knowledge of basketball is outstanding,” Jenkins said. “They have played together through their younger years and [through] the implementation of a new system and new coach, they have picked up on what we want as a staff through our program.”
The team’s only losses are to Davenport West and Clinton, two much larger schools. Against Clinton Saturday, the Cardinals were in it until the end. Kopp swished a corner three-pointer with 19 seconds left to tie the game and force overtime. The Cardinals eventually lost to the River Kings, but that’s OK. It’s good to learn how to do that, too.
And as the season winds down, Jenkins and the rest of the boys basketball coaching staff will learn these players’ habits and talents. Judging by their record thus far, there’s a fair share to go around. That makes Jenkins’ job easy.
“I honestly try to stay out their way as much as possible, but the biggest thing I have been working on with them this year is making the team great, not just good,” Jenkins said. “I always preach ‘don’t play down to the competition’ and always play Cardinal basketball, no matter the score. The game will play out itself.”
And so, it seems, will the future of Maquoketa basketball.