Hot start for Kickapoo leads to big win over Ozark

By Nolan Epstein

Ozark, MO – Kickapoo students in attendance at Ozark High School on Friday decided to borrow one of the more unique – and newer – traditions that was originally started by Taylor University in Indiana.

Following the ritual known as ‘Silent Night’, the Chiefs student section remained eerily silent at the start of the game while Kickapoo (6-2) racked up early points – until the team collected its tenth point of the game.

Once the milestone was reached, the quiet collection of students roared loudly and jubilantly in unison – and they kept the party going from there as they saw their club roll off 15 straight points to begin the contest en route to a 75-48 drubbing over the host Ozark Tigers (4-3).

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The fast start enabled Kickapoo to work with a respectable margin for error, but not much was needed since the Tigers could only manage to cut the lead to eight the rest of the way.

“It’s always important to get off to a good start,” Kickapoo head coach Dick Rippee said. “I thought our guys came out focused and played extremely hard, and it always makes everything else a little bit easier when you’re making baskets.”

The 15-0 barrage, highlighted by a trio of 3-pointers from Xavier commit Jared Ridder, took less than three and a half minutes to unfold.

“They just hit shots,” said Ozark head coach Mark Schweitzer of Kickapoo’s early spurt. “They hit some tough ones and hit some pull-ups in transition. We didn’t make shots on our end and they made shots on their end.”

Ozark was able to score the next seven points following the quick and furious run by the Chiefs, but Kickapoo once again took command – charging out to a 22-7 lead at the end of the first quarter and eventually building as much as a 30-point advantage late in the game.

It comes as no surprise that the Kickapoo offensive attack was led by Ridder, who posted a game-high 25 points in the win. Senior Cameron Davis, who will be continuing his playing career at Navy, chipped in with 20 points.

“Those two guys, there’s a reason why they’re both going to Division I institutions to play basketball,” Rippee said of Ridder and Davis. “They’re both great players and they complement each other really well. They’re great teammates, they’re good workers and they’re good leaders.”

The victory for Kickapoo also marked the fifth time this year that the Chiefs have held their opponent to less than 55 points.

“Defensively, we’ve got a chance to be really good.” Rippee added. “When we’re making baskets, it seems like our defense is a little bit better.”

Ozark was led in the scoring column by junior Quinn Nelson, who knocked in four 3-balls in an 18-

point effort.

Both teams are back in action on Tuesday as Kickapoo travels to take on Central, while the Tigers visit Parkview.

Box Score

Kickapoo – 22 22 18 13 – 75

Ozark – 7 20 12 9 – 48

Kickapoo – Jared Ridder 25, Cameron Davis 20, Travis Vokolek 10, Donyae McCaskill 6, Isaac Blakeslee 6, Corey Dye 3, Mitch Closser 3, Jackson Auer 2

Ozark – Quinn Nelson 18, Parker Hanks 16, Noah Suiter 5, Garrett Reinke 4, Parker Ramsdell 3, Peyton Skipworth 2