Because this was not only his initial season at Montgomery County, but also his first time as a varsity coach, most people would say the fact Scott Kroeger led the Wildcats to a record of 21-7 overall, 7-3 Eastern Missouri Conference, is fairly impressive.
Kroeger is his own worst critic, though, and just isn't happy with any of his own accomplishments, be it regular season or playoffs.
"We had a solid season. We all had very high expectations as far as record and accomplishments. Our ultimate goal as a team was to compete in every contest and to improve as the season went on. I felt as though we accomplished that," Kroeger said. "We didn't quite meet expectations as far as championships. We couldn't quite get over the hump in big games. We got to the championship in districts and ran into a very good Christian team. We did expect to make it further in the postseason."
During the regular season Montgomery County participaterd in four tournaments and finished second in all of them. Next season completing that same feat won't be quite so easy beacuse the team graduates seven seniors, all of which played significant roles in the playing rotation.
"The best part of every campaign is always going to be the players. There are unique and interesting story lines that develop each and every season with individual players," said Kroeger. "It's extremely rewarding to see them grow as people, regardless of what's occurring on the court. I'm going to miss the seniors very much in terms of just being around them. I know that they'll be able to look back and think of the good times and be able to use the lessons learned to benefit them as they grow into adults."
One learning experience Kroeger and the Wildcats can only grow from is playing teams with similar styles like eventual class 2 state champ Van-Far in Eastern Missouri Conference action. They also had to learn how to defend half-court teams with dominant big men like district champ Elsberry despite the fact they definitely lacked size.
"The worst part was definitely the end because I could tell how much this game and this community means to these kids so it's tough to see such a big part of their identities end," Kroeger said. "This year was challenging for many obvious reasons but I do believe that the kids were able to get extremely valuable life experience out of the situations that they were forced into. We had some rough moments that we were able to embrace as learning opportunities."
Even though the 2017-18 season just recently came to a close, the next step for this team is to get back to the goal of getting better by way of offseason conditioning, be it as individuals playing other sports or as a group, or both. Part of that means learning from their mistakes, which, for Kroeger, includes drawing from exoeriences such a tough league road loss at North Callaway in which the Wildcats simply didn't ply as well as they could have.
"We competed well within our league but didn't come away with the crown," said Kroeger. "I am looking to take huge steps in the direction of creating a winning defensive and effort culture that can carry us into the future. This coming season will be extremely valuable for the following seasons as well."
There's only one route that will get Kroeger from where he is to where he wants to be when it comes to high school basketball and that's youth. That means he's going to have to teach the game to the best talent available from ninth grade up in hopes of laying down a foundation that can support everybody's hopes and dreams for not just the upcoming season, but several more beyond that.
"We are going to be extremely inexperienced as far as varsity basketball goes next season. We are, however, going to be infusing some young talent from the upcoming junior, sophomore, and freshmen classes that have played and been around a ton of basketball," Kroeger said. "Next year will be a learning experience."