Young Comets continue to grow, improve on a nightly basis

Wednesday, January 10, 2018
Drew Clary drives to the baseline as Braden Hufstedler slides over to impede his progress in Thayer’s win at Alton Dec. 2. Photo/Mullins

You have to give Coach Jason Qualls’ Alton Comets basketball team a ton of credit for the way they’ve approached the first month of the new basketball season.

After graduating six key seniors off last year’s squad, the Comets could have simply wrote off this year and mailed in the results on a nightly basis with a lack of effort.

However, that’s not how Qualls’ squad has chosen to view the 2017-18 basketball campaign.

Matthew Townsend makes a spin move in the paint as Dylan Spencer attempts to cut off his path to the hoop. Photo/Mullins

Even though they’re a team built primarily of young sophomores, the Comets have refused to use that as an excuse and have played their hearts out every time they’ve stepped on the court.

The team’s progress can easily be measured by the naked eye, as Alton continues to grow and get better, game-by-game.

That growth was evident on Jan. 2, even though Alton lost to the state’s fourth-ranked Class team - the visiting Thayer Bobcats - by the count of 69-31.

Ayden Stones pulls up for a jumper as Colby Kernodle defends. Photo/Mullins

The Bobcats jumped in front 5-0 behind an old-fashioned 3-point play from Jalen Andrews (11 points) and bucket by Dylan Spencer (11 points).

Alton’s first hoop of the night came on a trey from the hands of Ely King (eight points) at the 5:35 mark of the first period.

Responding with a period-closing 5-0 run, the Cats stood in front, 12-3, after one.

Dylan Spencer and Jalen Andrews take flight to corral a rebound in the Thayer Bobcats’ clash with the Alton Comets. Photo/Mullins

Dawson Huckabee (six points) opened the second period with a basket for the Comets, but then Braden Hufstedler (nine points) started a 9-0 spurt for Thayer with back-to-back buckets.

Drew Clary (nine points) halted the runout with a hoop in the lane, but then the Bobcats reeled off nine unanswered points to push in front, 30-7.

King hit a late 3-ball for Alton, but once again, the Bobcats had a response, this one in the form of an 11-0 burst, giving the Cats a 41-10 advantage at the break.

Try as they might, the Comets just couldn’t close the gap much and trailed 51-16 heading into the fourth period.

Colby Kernodle finished with six points for Alton, while Cason Kinder had two.

Ayden Stone tossed in 10 points, while Trevor Jenkins and Remington Childers tallied six points apiece for Thayer. Zerek Langley added five, Dillon Poulette had four and Hayden Couch three points. Logan Doss and Jayce Haven netted two points each for the Bobcats.

Thayer won the junior varsity contest, 37-31, to start the evening.

Doss had 10 points in the JV game, with Langley and Levi Poulette hitting for eight points each. Haven and Dillon Poulette had five points each. Caleb Smith finished with two points for the JV Bobcats.

Cainan Heck paced the JC Comets with 11 points. Ben Oesch had 10 and Kinder eight. Daniel Smith finished with two points for Alton.

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