By SCOTT COTTOS
VANLUE — One down.
And many more to go, coach Tim Ritzler and his St. Wendelin boys basketball team hope.
Guard Brayden Moon connected for 20 points and 6-foot-9 senior post Andrew Schetter collected 19 points and 14 rebounds on Saturday night as the Mohawks downed Vanlue 56-40 in nonconference play to gain their first victory in five tries in their first season under Ritzler.
“It’s good to get that one out of the way,” Ritzler said. “We knew it was just a matter of time before we could get one. We had a couple of different opportunities, I felt, on our schedule to get one (earlier), but we just didn’t put four quarters together.”
While St. Wendelin could enjoy a win, Vanlue’s wait continues. The Wildcats dropped to 0-6 on the season and saw a losing skid dating back to 2015 extend to 36 contests.
Vanlue coach Nick Jacobs said the losing streak isn’t due to a lack of effort by his players, most of whom are juniors with considerable experience.
“We haven’t had the wins that we want,” he said. “But they come in every week willing to put in the work.
“We’re going to get one here soon. We have to do it. These guys are old enough now. They’ve been playing forever. They’ve got 50-plus games under their belt. So, they know what it takes. We just need to have all five (starting) pieces and our bench to all be in sync and ready to go.”
Troy Ward notched 14 points, 11 rebounds and four steals and Jacob Kloepfer recorded 12 points and 13 rebounds to lead Vanlue. But the Wildcats shot just 24.2 percent (15 of 62) from the floor and found themselves down 13-2 by the end of the first quarter.
“We started off pretty slow,” Jacobs said. “We were getting good looks. We just didn’t get anything to fall.”
Moon had 12 of his points by halftime as St. Wendelin built its lead to 26-10.
The Mohawks went on to make 21 of their 68 field goal tries (30.1 percent) on the night.
“I thought, tonight, we really came out in the first half with some defensive intensity, which kind of led us,” Ritzler said. “I don’t think we played great offense in the first half; we left some points on the floor. But we held them to 10 points in the first half. Defensively, we were able to get up and pressure them a little bit and get a hand in their shooter’s face.”
After the Mohawks took a 46-25 lead into the fourth quarter, Caleb Bonham scored four points and Ward and Treg Price each hit a 3-pointer as the Wildcats cut the lead to 47-35. St. Wendelin, however, quickly re-established control as Schetter scored a pair of baskets from close range and Quinton Taylor added a bucket for a 53-35 advantage.
“It’s kind of been our thing — we kind of dig ourselves a hole, but these guys try to find a way to get back in it,” Jacobs said.
But it was Ritzler who was able to walk away with his first win of the season and as the Mohawks’ coach.
“It’s exciting,” he said. “I’ll go home, and tonight and tomorrow we’ll kind of celebrate and feel good about the victory. Then, Monday, we’ll get to work; we’ve got Lakota on Thursday.
“It’s kind of the monkey off the back. We got the first one out of the way. Now we’ll see if we can get a couple in a row.”
Brody Whetsel followed Schetter on the boards with five for St. Wendelin, and Moon and Joel Lopez made three steals apiece.
Reed Davis handed out three assists for Vanlue.
ST. WENDELIN (1-4)
Lopez 1-1–3, Moon 6-5–20, Smith 3-1–8, Whetsel 2-0–4, Schetter 9-1–19, Noel 0-0-0, Kelbley 0-0–0, Goodman 0-0–0, Taylor 1-0-2. TOTALS: 21-68 8-15 — 56.
Price 2-0–5, Bonham 2-3–7, Davis 0-0–0, Ward 5-0–14, Kloepfer 5-2-12, Sunderhaus 1-0–2. TOTALS: 15-62 5–40.
St. Wendelin 12 14 20 16 — 56
Vanlue 3 7 15 15 — 40
3-POINT GOALS: St. Wendelin 3-15 (Moon 2, Smith 1); Vanlue 5-28 (Ward 4, Price 1).
REBOUNDS: St. Wendelin 31 (Schetter 14); Vanlue 39 (Kloepfer 13).
TURNOVERS: St. Wendelin 13, Vanlue 15.
JUNIOR VARSITY: St. Wendelin, 37-25.