Kratzer is crucial off the bench for Heritage Hills

By COREY STOLZENBACH
sports@dcherald.com

LINCOLN CITY — People who go to a Heritage Hills game likely won’t hear Cayden Kratzer’s name announced in the starting lineup — but the senior is very much a key cog in the Patriots’ rotation.

Kratzer

Seniors Murray Becher and Simon Scherry, along with junior Blake Sisley, have well-established themselves as the team’s big three, but any team who overlooks Kratzer when he comes in off the bench might get themselves burned. Kratzer is shooting 49 percent from the 3-point line this season, and leads the team in charges taken. He provides leadership both on and off the court. Kratzer has gone from a junior varsity regular that sparingly played on varsity last year to putting in the work to become a valuable varsity asset his senior year.

“I look at him as our sixth starter,” Pats coach Nate Hawkins said of Kratzer.

Kratzer is perfectly fine with the role that he has. He knows it and relishes it. Kratzer credits his leadership to being productive off the bench, telling fellow bench players when they need help and coaching them up in huddles while staying positive through all that.

“I want to win every game possible,” Kratzer said. “I hate losing. I always have, always will...So, I want to win as much as I can.”

One notable moment in Kratzer’s senior year came Dec. 10 against Evansville Bosse, the team that knocked Heritage Hills out of its sectional opener last year. The Pats did not have Becher on hand, but they still pulled together and came away with an 82-68 win. Kratzer has also shown he is capable of scoring off the bench, as evidenced by a 14-point performance Feb. 18 in an 84-55 win against Evansville North.

Kratzer stands at 5 feet 9 inches tall, and has made perimeter shooting his game. He banked four 3-pointers in the triumph against the Huskies. Kratzer estimated he spent time working on his shot in the gym every day this offseason, excluding most weekends.

“The only way you shoot 49 percent is to get in the gym on your time and continue to work,” Hawkins said.

Kratzer thinks the biggest differences from last year lie within doing whatever it takes to win, having an improved jump shot and being a more vocal leader.

The Pats won their 14th consecutive game on Tuesday, a 74-57 affair against Princeton, but Hawkins didn’t like the effort they played with right out of the gate. Their goal is to play 32 minutes Friday at Perry Central, and the fourth-year Heritage Hills coach praised Kratzer for his efforts to jump start a really good practice on Wednesday.

“When he comes out and he brings that kind of energy as a senior leader and as one of those guys on the team, a lot of the younger kids just fall into place,” he said.

Kratzer is only guaranteed two more games in his high school career — Friday against the Commodores and March 6 in the sectional semifinal. The Pats will have the chance to avenge last year’s loss against the Bulldogs if Bosse takes down Gibson Southern in the sectional opener. Kratzer said everybody in the Heritage Hills locker room wants to win just as badly as he does.

Heritage Hills is looking for its first sectional championship since 2003. Hawkins believes Kratzer will have played a big role if they’re the ones cutting the nets down March 7 at Boonville.

“I’m just hopeful that we can get that done so that this whole group of seniors can enjoy that experience together,” Hawkins said.

“It’ll for sure be a surreal feeling,” Kratzer said. “It’ll be really emotional, a lot of happiness and a lot of joy because we haven’t brought one home since 2003.”

 




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