The Joplin Globe, Joplin, MO

Sports

December 28, 2013

Colgan builds confidence with 4-0 start to season

The St. Mary’s-Colgan Panthers have plenty of reasons to be pleased with their start to the basketball season.

Colgan’s boys entered the holiday break with a 4-0 record after wins against Frontenac, Jasper, McDonald County and Carl Junction. The Panthers wrapped up the first phase of their season by beating Carl Junction 63-54 on Dec. 20. A year ago, the Bulldogs defeated Colgan 84-52. This time, Colgan used a match-up zone defense in an effort to keep Carl Junction stationary.

“They beat us by 30-plus last year,” Colgan coach Wayne Cichon said. “We knew they had a lot of kids back from last year.Not only did they beat us at the varsity level last year, but they beat us in the JV game as well. That can be an indicator of the future. Carl Junction is a really good team. We had a good game plan, and our kids executed it very well.”

It’s the type of win that can provide a lot of confidence for a Colgan squad that won’t resume action until they travel to face Seneca on Jan. 7.

However, Cichon doesn’t want his team to become overconfident.

“We have a fairly young team,” Cichon said. “We have three sophomores making major contributions. They are very confident right now. The break may have been at the right time. We want them to forget how they performed in the first four games and get back to the practice floor and continue to improve.”

Junior Austin Commons leads a balanced Panther scoring attack with 13.8 points per game. Senior Luke Marquardt averages 13.3 points. Sophomore Chase VanBecelare is Colgan’s third player averaging double figures with 10.3 points per game.

“In each game, we’ve had somebody step up for us in one category or another, and it hasn’t always been the same guy,” Cichon said. “The first two games, Luke Marquardt scored about 20 points. In the third game against Jasper, Luke got in foul trouble early. At one point, Luke had only three points and we were up by 30. We had that lead and Luke wasn’t even a factor in the game. That shows we have several kids who are capable of stepping up when others aren’t having their best game.”

Senior point guard Tucker Hoffman leads the Panthers in assists with 5.0 per game. Marquardt and sophomore Garrett Normand are tied for the team lead in rebounds with 8.8 per game. Seniors Christian Cedeno and Brandon Emerson, juniors Grant Cason and Ian Duncan and sophomore Ryan Cedeno also lend support to a deep Colgan squad.

Colgan’s nonconference schedule includes numerous Missouri schools before beginning CNC League competition on Feb. 4 at Girard. Colgan will face Seneca, Nevada and Lamar in regular season games and will compete in the Tony Dubray Classic at Liberal, which includes the likes of Thomas Jefferson and Golden City.

“Our schedule is pretty heavy on the Missouri side,” Cichon said. “A lot of them are bigger schools than we are. They are good opportunities for our kids to see what good competition is like. Those games are a good measuring stick.”

Cichon said he expects another competitive league race and points to Riverton, Galena, Frontenac and Girard and Columbus as all having the ability to contend for the league title.

After league competition, Colgan will compete in a Class 2A sub-state at Yates Center.

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