The West Liberty High School boys basketball team came into the season looking to rebuild. Losing three senior starters, the Comets are counting on new players to set the tone for the West Liberty program after an extended off season and a dismal season last year that saw just two wins.
The Comets set the tone early, winning in Columbus to start the season 47-43, before losing in Bellevue and narrowly missing out over Durant.
The unconventional season started Thursday for the Comets as they took the trip south to Columbus to play the Wildcats. The Comets struck early taking the lead in the first quarter 11-8 before falling behind and heading into the locker room training 23-17 after scoring just six and allowing 15 in the second period.
The Comets worked to cut the gap in the third quarter but would only do so by one point, 9-8, as the Comets found themselves trailing 31-28. The Comets then put together their best quarter of the night, outscoring Columbus 21-12 in the final minutes to take the four point win.
Junior guard Caleb Wulf led every statistical category for the Comets on the night, starting the season with a double-double scoring 22 points on eight of 27 shooting from the floor and hitting a three-pointer while going five of 10 from the line. He added 12 rebounds, six steals and three assists. Hector Adames added nine points for the Comets, including hitting a three point shot while Chance Thrasher added six points and as many rebounds. Jayce McHugh, a freshman, had three steals in the game along with five rebounds.
West Liberty had 14 more shot attempts from the field, hitting 18 of 58 while connecting on just two of 13 three point attempts and going 9 of 19 from the charity stripe.
The following night, the Comets took the snowy trip to Bellevue. The Comets found themselves leading after the first quarter, 16-13, but an explosive second quarter from Bellevue’s Colby Sieverding, who went on to score 31 on the night, would put Bellevue up 29-22 headed into the break.
The hosts outscored the Comets 18-9 in the third frame to widen the gap to 16 and the Comets eventually fell 60-42, outscored 13-11 in the final minutes.
Senior Chance Thrasher played a pivotal role in the Comets offense, scoring 17 from the post in hitting eight of 12 field goals while pulling down six rebounds. Wulf hit five of 11 field goals to score 13, including hitting a three point shot. Adames finished with four points for the visitors.
West Liberty hit 19 of 45 shots from the floor for over 42 percent, but could only make one of nine three point shots and three of 11 from the charity stripe. They also had 16 turnovers in the game.
The Comets ended their opening week with a trip to play the “other” Wildcats, this time from Durant. The Comets fell in a nail biter 55-52. No stats were available from the game.
The Comets host Anamosa Friday, Mid-Prairie on Monday then head to Cascade Tuesday to close out their week before the holiday break. All home games can be viewed on the West Liberty School District YouTube channel.