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Rams fend off Crusaders
The Rams' senior leader recorded a triple double.
Alex King opened his senior season with the kind of performance Scott City boys basketball coach Lance Amick would like to see every night.
With Ryan Modglin helping King out under the basket this year, Amick may get his wish.
King had a triple-double, scoring 20 points, grabbing 12 rebounds and blocking 11 shots Tuesday night as the Rams defeated host Saxony Lutheran 59-47.
"I told Alex King after the game I thought he was the difference in the game," Saxony Lutheran coach John Daniel said. "He was a man against boys."
"He can be," Amick said, "if he plays the way he's supposed to, if he plays as hard as he can."
The 6-foot-5 King and many of his teammates were around last year, when Scott City opened the season with a 13-point loss to Saxony Lutheran. But Modglin, a 6-foot-3 senior forward who started as a sophomore, did not play last year while recovering from an injury and preparing for baseball season. The Missouri State-bound pitcher scored just five points Tuesday as he worked out some rust in his shooting touch, but all of his points came as the Rams pulled away in the second half. Modglin also had some steals after intermission to keep Saxony Lutheran at bay.
"Ryan is always going to go his hardest," King said. "He's a pretty good leader. He helps us on rebounding and defense. He can muscle some people around and get rebounds."
"We feed off Ryan's and Jay's energy," Amick said, referring to senior guard Jay Simmons. "They're our sparkplugs. Everyone put us down last year and didn't give enough credit to our kids, but we didn't have Ryan after he started for us the year before."
Scott City was a district runner-up last year to Class 3 state champion Charleston. The Rams would like to take the next step this year.
They had to be happy with many signs Tuesday night. Simmons hit three 3-pointers and mixed in some baskets in transition on his way to a game-high 22 points.
King ended the night with just two fouls, helping him stay on the floor to compile his numbers.
Caleb Estes added nine points, hitting two treys.
Estes, a former offensive lineman who played quarterback for Scott City this past fall, and John Pinkston, an all-conference lineman this year, give the Rams a pair of guard/forwards who won't get pushed around the floor either.
"When I saw their starting lineup, I knew who they were going to put out there, but their smallest kid weighed more than our heaviest kid," Daniel said. "That's a very strong team. And Modglin gives them just another tough, competitive kid."
The Crusaders (3-1), coming off the Woodland Invitational championship run, were competitive with the Rams in the opening half. The Crusaders jumped to a 7-3 lead, then fought back from a five-point deficit and led 23-20 in the second period. Running a bit of a delay offense, Saxony took time off the clock and created some scoring opportunities. Scott City grabbed a 26-25 lead by halftime, as King scored a basket on an inbounds play and converted the free throw for his second three-point play and 12th point of the half.
King traded offense for blocked shots in the second half, rejecting or altering several as the Rams jetted to a 38-27 lead in the third period.
"We had some success against them in the first half against their man-to-man," Daniel said. "When they got into some foul trouble, they went to a zone and kept King by the basket, and that changed the game. Once he could just hang by the basket, he dominated the game."
Austin Kwikkel and Bret Steffens combined for the final six points of the period, as Saxony closed to within 38-33.
The Crusaders were as close as 40-37 on Zach Bohnert's baseline jumper but Scott City went on a seven-point run with Modglin converting a three-point play and King hitting two baskets while the Crusaders missed two front ends of one-and-one situations.
Simmons' coast-to-coast drive for a basket with 3 minutes to go and Steffens' fifth foul shortly after sealed the deal for Scott City, which was 8-for-10 on free throws to close out the game.
Saxony Lutheran was led in scoring by Kwikkel with 13 points and Ben Courtois with 10. Five of their players scored six or more points.
"I'm really proud of how unselfish our kids are," Daniel said. "We had very balanced scoring. That's how it's been so far and I think it will be that way all year."
Said Amick: "They're a good team and they're going to win a lot of ballgames. They're tough to match up because every kid is about 6-foot, 6-1. We were fortunate to find a way to pull away in the third quarter."
Scott City (59) -- John Pinkston 1, Jay Simmons 22, Shae Simmons 2, Caleb Estes 9, Ryan Modglin 5, Alex King 20. FG 19, FT 16-24, F 16 (3-pointers: Jay Simmons 3, Estes 2. Fouled out: none)
Saxony Lutheran (47) -- Garrett Ruppel 2, Zach Bohnert 6, Bret Steffens 8, Max Wieser 8, Ben Courtois 10, Austin Kwikkel 13. FG 20, FT 6-9, F 23. (3-pointers: Kwikkel 1. Fouled out: Steffens, Ruppel)