HHS freshman guard DJ Riley drives toward the basket in a game against Koshkonong Monday in the New Gym. Riley led the Tigers in scoring in the contest with 15 points. Credit: DOUG DAVISON | HOUSTON HERALD

The ultra-young Houston High School boys basketball team got the 2022-2023 season under way with a pair of losses.

Featuring a starting lineup including two sophomores and a freshman, the Tigers fell 73-22 on Tuesday of last week at Cuba and were defeated 74-44 by Koshkonong Monday in Houston.

At Cuba, the Tigers matched up against a squad featuring six seniors, including five in the starting lineup. The host Wildcats took care of business in short order, leading 25-5 at the end of the first quarter and never looking back.

Sophomore guard Jordan Arthur led Houston in scoring in the contest with 10 points, while senior center Harold Lassiter had 6.

Cuba’s balanced scoring attacked was led by seniors Kyle Ray and Dylan Beal with 15 points apiece, while sophomore Jesse Elrod came off the bench to add 12.

The Tigers sank only 3-of-9 free throws, while the Wildcats went 8-for-10 from the stripe.

Koshkonong came into Houston’s New Gym early this week with a roster featuring four players 6-foot-3 or taller and seven at least 6-feet tall.

The visiting Blue Jays’ overwhelming advantage on the boards proved crucial, and they exploded for 50 points in the second half to turn a close game into a rout.

HHS sophomore guard Jordan Arthur makes a move to the basket while being guarded by Koshkonong junior Skyler Stirewalt.

The Tigers hung around in the first half, using their superior quickness to score several baskets in transition. The score was tied at 9 apiece at the end of the first quarter and Koshkonong was up 24-19 at halftime.

But the Blue Jays got away in the second half, as 6-5 junior Jobe Sturgeon poured in 19 points and 6-4 senior Kaiden Burgess scored 16. Burgess finished with a game-high 25 points (going 7-for-8 from the free throw line), while Sturgeon added 23. Junior guard Derrik Villavicencio nailed five 3-pointers and scored 19 points for the Blue Jays.

The Tigers were led in scoring by freshman guard DJ Riley, who hit three treys and finished with 15 points. HHS sophomore forward Brady Brookshire also sank three shot from behind the arc and scored 11 points, while Arthur added 9.

Houston again had problems with free throws, going only 6-for-20 from line in the contest. Meanwhile, Koshkonong sank 12-of-19 foul shots.

Houston sophomore Brady Brookshire makes a move to the basket while being grabbed by Koshkonong senior Jaydon Roy.

“We’re a young and inexperienced team,” said HHS head coach Jim Moore. “We have shown signs of improvement already, and that’s going to be the theme and goal for the year. We want to take advantage of every opportunity we have to get better, and we will. 

“We can control our attitudes, effort and reaction. Those three characteristics are the cornerstone we are going to build on this season.”

The Tigers traveled to Eminence on Tuesday of this week and next week will be in the field at the annual Mansfield Invitational tournament. This year’s version of the event features a 4-team round-robin format. Houston will face Liberty at 6 p.m. Tuesday, Mansfield at 7:45 p.m. Thursday and Bakersfield at 6 p.m. Friday.

Doug Davison is a writer, photographer and newsroom assistant for the Houston Herald. Contact him by phone at 417-967-2000 or by email at ddavison@houstonherald.com.

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