Wildcats see silver lining after loss to Purdy

Tuesday, December 5, 2017
Verona’s Kolton Pinkly knocks down a shot in the lane for the Wildcats on Saturday. Jared Lankford/sports@monett-times.com

Verona finishes 2nd at Pierce City Invitational

Cold first-half shooting and a deep hole proved to be too much for the Verona basketball team to overcome in the Championship game of the 54th annual Pierce City Invitational.

The Wildcats fell, 46-39, to Purdy, but they have plenty of reasons to smile.

“As a four-seed, we played the No. 5, No. 1 and No. 2 seeds in this tournament,” said Brad Stewart, Verona coach. “It can’t get any tougher for a four seed. We proved that we could play with any team in this tourney, and we were in every game here.”

The Wildcats’ defense in the three-game tourney is something Stewart said his players could hang their hats on.

“To allow only 51, 49 and 46 points, that is pretty good,” Stewart said. “That is a pretty good defensive effort. Offensivley, we started the game slow. Last year, we had trouble attack zones. We have improved there, but we still need to hit those harder.”

The Wildcats trailed Purdy, 40-25 entering the fourth quarter, but closed the gap to 4 points and had three chances to cut the margin again but missed two 3-pointers and a layup.

“A couple of those just rimmed out,” Stewart said. “But, you can’t dig yourself a 15-point hole and put pressure on yourself to dig out in one quarter.”

Scoring for Verona: Caleb Hillhouse, 15; Kolton Pinkly, 10; Eddie Gutierrez, 9; Austin Valdez, 3; and Dominic Fernandez, 2.

Scoring for Purdy: Colt Keeling, 22; Hunter Cook, 9; Jose Sanchez, 8; Tyler Keeler, 4; and Ky Propps, 3.

The Wildcats landed two on the All-Tournament team In Pinkly and Hillhouse.

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