Medora basketball coach Michael Leitzman said he was proud of the way his team played against West Washington on Tuesday night in the season opener at home, despite a 58-53 loss.
The Hornets (0-1) led most of the game and the game was tied at 53 with 1:12 remaining, but the team couldn’t close the game due to errors and the Senators hitting late free throws.
The game started strong for the Hornets as they jumped to a quick 8-2 lead behind senior Kam Flynn’s three pointer and lay up and junior Brandon Moore’s three pointer.
The Hornets also played good defense and did not let the Senators drive to the basket.
“We did a great job of keeping them out of the paint, forcing them to take outside shots,” Leitzman said of the team’s first half defense.
During the second quarter, the Senators made adjustments and began to chip away at the Hornets’ lead. That was fueled by two turnovers, defensive rebounds and three fouls.
It looked as though the Hornets would go into the locker room at the half with a six-point lead, but Moore hit a buzzer-beater to bring the second half to a close at 29-20 in favor of the Hornets.
Leitzman said the team struggled in the second half defensively and started out of the wrong foot with turnovers.
“We kind of folded a little at times, letting them have a lot of easy baskets and there was a lot of momentum shifts,” he said.
The Hornets had two quick turnovers and failed to get offensive rebounds that led to a quick 10-0 run for the Senators to start the second half.
Medora then settled in and slowed the pace of the game and battled back-and-forth with the Senators.
Hornets senior Chase Booker was a major factor offensively in the third quarter as he scored 10 of his 17 points and had two steals.
Both teams had scoring droughts in the third and the Hornets led 41-37 to end the quarter.
Hornets senior Jalen Beesley started the fourth quarter with a three-pointer, but Senators’ guard Noah Green answered back with a quick lay in.
The two teams went back and forth, and the Hornets led 53-50 with three minutes to go after Flynn made two free throws.
Michael Sizemore made a free throw to bring it to 53-51 for the Senators before Flynn was called for traveling.
Sizemore then took the ball and scored a lay up and the Hornets were charged with a foul. Sizemore made the free throw to bring the game to 54-53.
The Hornets drove down the court to set up an offensive run when sophomore Tony Norklun made a pass that went out of bounds with 28.6 seconds remaining, turning the ball over.
Sizemore hit two more free throws for the Senators, and the Hornets weren’t able to recover.
Leitzman said the effort by the team showed they were capable of competing and do not lack effort.
“Ever since I got this job, these kids have given me great effort,” he said. “They competed hard and this was a good team, and we just missed a few plays.”
Leitzman said the atmosphere of a home game was also something that will help energize the team.
“This is the most exciting this place has been,” he said, adding that many have anticipated the start of the season. “I’m sure that really makes the kids get excited.”