After just two months, Jake Stellwagen is enjoying a strong first season with the Montgomery County boys basketball team, earning all-tournament awards at the Montgomery County and South Callaway …
After just two months, Jake Stellwagen is enjoying a strong first season with the Montgomery County boys basketball team, earning all-tournament awards at the Montgomery County and South Callaway tournaments.
Now, the senior is looking to add an Eastern Missouri Conference title to his trophy case.
Stellwagen helped the Wildcats remain undefeated in conference play by turning in an outstanding effort from behind the arc. He finished with 21 points with seven 3-pointers to lift MCHS to an 86-41 win over Bowling Green on Jan. 17 at Ballew & Snell Court.
The Wildcats improved to 13-4 overall and 5-0 in conference play. They are looking to win their fourth EMO title in five years.
“I never won a conference championship, so it’s going to be extra special for me,” Stellwagen said. “Winning it with this group of guys will be really cool.”
Stellwagen transferred from Verona High School. For the last three years, he played for a program that competed in a very tough Ozarks 7 Conference.
“There was really one team that won almost every year and that’s College Heights Christian Academy,” Stellwagen said. “They’re a very good school.”
So far, Stellwagen is helping his new school cruise past the competition in EMO play. The Wildcats won all of their league games by an average margin of 34 points. They also had wins over Silex, Wright City, Wellsville-Middletown and North Callaway.
Clopton and Van-Far are challenging the Wildcats for the title. Clopton is tied for first with the Wildcats at 5-0 and Van-Far is 4-0. MCHS will play Van-Far at home on Feb. 1 and travel to Clopton on Feb. 15.
“They’re two very good basketball teams,” MCHS coach Scott Kroeger said. “They’re well-coached. Coach (Tony) Francis at Clopton has so much experience. He has state level experience in girls basketball and college experience. Van-Far had unreal success for the last 10 years, especially for a school of their size. They have state championships, Final Four and quarter final appearances. They’ll most likely win 20 games this year. They’re going to be two tough games for sure.”
The Wildcats also have Mark Twain (Feb. 6), Louisiana (Feb. 9) and Elsberry (Feb. 13) left in their conference schedule.
In the contest against Bowling Green, Stellwagen hit five of his treys in the first half. He came up four 3-pointers shy of his personal-best total of 11 he set while he was playing at Verona.
“Once I start feeling it and the crowd gets into it, it’s a confidence booster,” Stellwagen said. “It helps me out a lot.”
MCHS stormed to a 14-0 lead and never looked back against the Bobcats. The Wildcats’ 86 points marked the second time this season they scored 80 points or more.
Junior Clayton Parker scored 25 points, including 23 in the first half, to lead the Wildcats. Junior Tyler Erwin was the other MCHS player in double figures with 10 points.
MCHS won its fourth straight game. The team was coming off a championship at the South Callaway Tournament four days before.
“This group of guys is starting to work together really well,” Stellwagen said. “We’re going to be really scary come postseason time.”
Kroeger said this year’s squad reminds him of the 2019-2020 team that won 25 games and captured an EMO title.
“There were a lot of timeouts in which I didn’t say a word,” Kroeger said. “I would call a timeout and we had three kids who were running the show and talking to each other about adjustments that they were going to make. I would say, ‘Talk to each other.’ I feel like we’re getting to that point with this team, which is really awesome considering that we have a major rotation player and our second leading scorer that has never been on the team before this year. These kids are really working at it and they want it.”
Kroeger said he is thrilled to have Stellwagen on his team. He plays for a starting lineup that includes Parker and Erwin, juniors Isaiah Thomas and Jay Rodgers and senior Mason Leu.
I’m super proud of him,” Kroeger said. “He remains coachable. We’ve been able to have conversations multiple times. I hope that he enjoys being here as much as we enjoy having him.”
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