MORAVIA — With an entire roster still learning new roles, the Blue Devils slipped up for the first time this season.
Held to four points in the final quarter, Moravia boys basketball was defeated by Whitney Point 58-52 Tuesday at Moravia High School. The Blue Devils led by three points at halftime and were up by five after three quarters, but the Eagles soared back by winning the fourth 10-4.
"Part of it was them. They did a good job of getting us out of rhythm," Moravia coach Todd Mulvaney said. "We missed some open looks, made some ill-advised passes and we were taking shots that we weren't taking in the first three quarters. We were making the wrong reads and it came back to bite us. Hopefully we can learn from this, take our lumps and move on."
Kaden Hooper scored a team-high 18 points for Moravia, with Scottie Sovocool being the only other Blue Devil to reach double digits with 11 points. Lin Wei Chen and Carter Flick both added eight points, and Kaleb Stayton chipped in with nine.
Whitney Point took it to Moravia in the opening four minutes, knocking down three 3-pointers to go ahead 15-6 to force a Blue Devils timeout.
Moravia took control for the rest of the first half. Hooper knocked down 10 points in the opening quarter and added eight more in the second, including two 3s. The Blue Devils continued to score points in the third quarter but hit a wall in the fourth.
The defending Class C state champion Blue Devils are still adjusting to life after losing dependable starters Gabe Short, Jordan Crossgrove and Parker Dickenson. Flick and Stayton are the two returning starters from last year's team, while Sovocool was one of the first players of the bench before injuring his ankle during the stretch run.
Otherwise, Mulvaney's team is comprised of players still acclimating to playing time at the varsity level.
"I'm really pleased with our guys' effort, just we've got to figure out how to win especially in that fourth quarter in a close game," Mulvaney said. "It's part of the process with this group. We really liked their effort and how hard they played, but they all have different roles this year. They're still learning and we're trying to feel our way out right now. "
After consecutive state final four appearances, this year's Blue Devils have plenty to live up to. Mulvaney looks forward to the coaching challenge of getting this season's group, which he says has shown strong glimpses of the team they can be in preseason and through three games, to consistently play at its best.
"It's a challenge, but it's exciting because they're all good kids and they're playing hard. That's all you can ask for as a coach," Mulvaney said. "It's not like you're coming to practice and dreading it. ...We're in the same boat where we're trying to teach really hard and they're trying to learn hard."
The Blue Devils (2-1) travel to Marathon next Tuesday.