Hoops On The Hill: Wildcats off to fast start - WGEM.com: Quincy News, Weather, Sports, and Radio

Hoops On The Hill: Wildcats off to fast start

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Jack Schrader addresses his team at Monday's practice. Jack Schrader addresses his team at Monday's practice.
Culver Stockton practice on Monday. Culver Stockton practice on Monday.
James Johnson James Johnson

CANTON, Mo. (WGEM) -- How does a program go from rock bottom, to it's best start in over a decade?

For the Culver Stockton Wildcats, it started with recruiting.

In his second year as head coach, Jack Schrader has seen a newcomer lead the team in scoring every game throughout a (7-2) opening run.

"When I got here, I didn't really know what to expect," Schrader told WGEM Sports.  

"What we had, what we needed, what was required in the conference to be successful.  Then it was just a question of following up, finding guys, contacting. You just try to get as good as you can get."

For junior James Johnson, seeing familiar faces commit to Culver was the difference when it came to landing with the program.

"Me and my old teammate CJ Adams, (along with) Marshawn Norris, and Mario Gully, we all came here just to try to start something new."

Then, take senior guard Austin Keaton, who began his athletic career at Culver on the baseball diamond.

After a year of junior college basketball in California, he returned to Canton where he swapped the cleats to lace it up on the hardwood.

"Right when I got here in the spring two years ago, I was told he was the best basketball player on campus," said Jack Schrader.

"He had an outstanding year last year in junior college, and it was just icing on the cake that he wanted to come back here."

"I'm really happy, especially with the way this season is going," Austin Keaton expressed.

"Everybody gets along great, and it's a great group of guys to be around. So, I'm glad I made this decision."

"With the pieces in place, the Wildcats have exactly what this program needed.

A starting point.

That new direction is the hope for to setting the tone going forward.

"They're an extremely competitive group of guys, and I think that's why they've been able to come together so quickly," said Schrader.

"The basketball program at Culver has been struggling the past few years, so getting these early wins under our belt has got the community excited," added Austin Keaton.

Even after a strong beginning, the Wildcats are taking things one day at a time.

"We've got to stay working hard," said James Johnson.

"We don't put anything past anybody, we just go out and we play."

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