Mount Ayr Raiders NEW logo

(Mount Ayr) -- A new look has not stopped the Mount Ayr boys basketball team from reaching another district final. 

One year removed from losing nine seniors from a squad that qualified for the substate finals, the Raiders sit at 18-4 and one of the final 32 teams left in Class 1A. 

"I don't know how many people pegged us to be in a district final after graduating nine seniors last year," Coach Bret Ruggles said. "We are excited to be here."

Nothing has been flashy about the Raiders, but they have been efficient.  

"Some years, you have a team that just understands their role," Ruggles said. "That's what these guys are."

Coach Ruggles uses senior Rhett Larson as a prime example of his team's "do your job" approach. 

"He's not the most offensively gifted person in the world," Ruggles said. "He knows that and it's OK. He'll get buckets and do some things under the basket, but he understands he has to rebound and defend." 

The Raiders' acknowledgement for their roles expands beyond Larsen, though, with Jaixen Frost, Erik Trujillo, Payton Weehler, Cody Larson and Riley Maudlin also being contributors for the Coach Ruggles squad. 

"This is a year of show up and do your job to the best of your abilities," Ruggles said. "When you have no expectations, it kinda becomes fun. I think that's been a thing for our guys. It's been fun to do every night, and we just keep winning."

The Raiders advanced to a district final with a nail-biting 50-47 victory over Murray. 

"Murray had a great game plan," Ruggles said. "I thought our guys adjusted really well." 

Up next for Mount Ayr is a showdown with Moravia in a Class 1A district final. Moravia enters at 19-4. 

"Their length," Ruggles said about Tuesday's opponent, "They're not tall, but they are very long in the zone. They play aggressive man-to-man defense."

Carson Brown leads the Mo-Hawks with 23.5 points per game. 

"He does it in the nicest way," Ruggles said about Brown. "Before you know it, you look up, and he has 25. That's going to be tough to defend. Some guys get 25, but you know exactly how they are going to do it. When you get a player like that, it's hard to stop it. He does everything good."

Moravia is far from a one-trick pony, but the Raiders feel they are ready for the challenge. 

"It's a tough task, but when you're one of 32 teams left in the state, everybody is good. I'm just excited that we are there," Coach Ruggles said.

Mount Ayr/Moravia is scheduled for a 7 p.m. tip in Leon. 

Click below to hear the full interview with Coach Ruggles. 

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