Wildcats take 3rd in Pierce City
Verona hoopsters finding identity
Teams often find playing for third place in a tournament the hardest game for generating excitement among the players, according to Verona basketball coach Brad Stewart.
“Take the fifth place game,” Stewart said. “You’re coming off a win and are looking to finish the tournament with two in a row. But in the third place game, you are still kind of down because it isn’t the championship and you were almost playing for the title instead.”
Still, the coach found a way to motivate his squad to a third-place finish in the Pierce City Invitational with a 78-66 win over East Newton on Saturday.
“It was a pretty up-tempo, high scoring affair,” Stewart said. “In the first quarter, I felt like we were getting beat to the loose balls, and we seemed to take care of that and settled in defensively. We went man, and that helped. East Newton was hard to slow down, but we countered with good ball movement and had four guys in double figures.”
Stewart said he is still tinkering with his lineup, but he believes that the Wildcats have figured out one helpful thing — they are trending more toward a man-to-man defensive team and not a zone defensive squad.
“The one thing I think we are looking for is our defensive identity,” Stewart said. “We have been a zone team the last couple of years. It looks like that we’re more of a man team than what we first anticipated. We’re still not a big team. We’re athletic, but we are going to have to rebound. We also have to get better at executing. I’m eager to find out if we can. Watching film, I think we’re all right when we go man.”
This week will be a litmus test for the Wildcats with a game against Sarcoxie that was played Tuesday (results were not available at presstime) and Miller on Friday night.
Greenfield comes calling on Tuesday, and Stewart said his team will know where they stand after this test.
“That’s a good little run right there,” he said. “Sarcoxie is coming in here thinking they can win, especially after we on beat them by two in Pierce City. We are going to need to get our sixth and seventh players involved. That’s one thing I learned in the Billings game, that we have to keep guys fresh.”
Verona had two land on the All-Tournament Team at Pierce City.
The complete squad is as follows: Aminu Mohammed, Greenwood, Most Valuable Player; Bobby Brown, Billings;
Grant Harper, Greenwood; Caleb Hillhouse, Verona; Aaron Garner, Pierce City; Eddie Gutierrez, Verona; and
Ryan Keith, Walnut Grove.
Tipoff with Miller is set for 6 p.m.