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By Taylor Hauser, Mount Vernon senior
MOUNT VERNON – After taking home the Class 2A state championship trophy in 2012, the Mount Vernon boys’ basketball team lost several key players, including the starting five.
Most of the players left had not experienced substantial varsity minutes in the previous season. Senior Calvin Kragenbrink said “it was hard getting used to playing with a group of guys and having to be more of a contributor.”
“It took us a lot of time to develop the chemistry we needed on the court,” said senior Jake Muller.
Mount Vernon typically started two freshmen, Conner Herrmann, and Tommy Hook, and usually only two players who saw considerable varsity minutes last year, Kragenbrink and Conner Shaffer.
The Mustangs had a rough start to the season, including a couple of losing streaks.
“At one point we lost six games in a row and it made it hard to see the light at the end of the tunnel,” Kragenbrink said.
Mount Vernon persevered, however, and made it to the Class 2A district final. After a four game winning streak, the Mustangs carried a lot of momentum going into the game. On Tuesday, they faced top-ranked Cascade.
“We felt very good going into the game,” Muller said. “We thought we matched up really well with them and we expected to win the game. That’s the mentality you need.”
The Mustangs and Cougars battled it out during the first half with Cascade ahead 23-17 at half time.
“I was confident that we could win the game,” senior Marshall Tuerler said after returning the court for the second half.
Mount Vernon came into the second half with enthusiasm. After several foul calls against the Mustangs, Cascade increased its lead to 36-23 at the conclusion of the third quarter. In the fourth quarter, Cascade was draining 3-pointers left and right, which made it difficult for the Mustangs to retaliate.
Cascade won the game, 53-37.
“I thought we played hard the entire game and I also felt like we just played within ourselves,” Shaffer said. “I thought we could have had better help defense and fewer turnovers. We missed a lot of shots that we usually make, you can’t really do anything about that.”
The Mustangs finished the season with a record of 8-16. Toward the conclusion of the season Coach Ed Timm announced he would retire.
“I was shocked more than anything,” said Tuerler of Timm’s retirement
. Timm has coached at Mount Vernon since 2006 and coached the 2012 team to a state championship.
“He was without a doubt my favorite coach throughout my career of sports. I have a lot of respect for him, and his decision,” Shaffer said.