Wildcats lose close game in conference opener

Friday, January 12, 2007

The Cassville Wildcats played two games this past week, starting the Tuesday before last against Reeds Spring and then opening big 8 Conference play against Aurora on Friday. The Wildcats would unfortunately lose both contests but came close to winning against Aurora.

On Tuesday, Jan. 2, the Reeds Spring Wolves traveled to Cassville. The Wolves (2-7) came in hungry for a win and quickly devoured the Wildcats. In the first quarter Reeds Spring started quickly and scored seven straight points before the 'Cats answered, leaving the first quarter score at 13-8 Wolves.

Then in the second quarter, Cassville struggled mightily and gave up a 22-point run that kept them without a basket until 30 seconds left in the half. In the final two quarters, the Wildcats stayed with the Wolves but could never surmount a comeback ultimately losing 60-31.

Reeds Spring's size advantage was huge in the game as the Wolves simply shot over the Wildcats.

As a team, the Wildcats shot 18 percent (2-11) from behind the arc, 26 percent (10-38) from the field and 69 percent (9-13) from the free-throw line. The Wolves shot 46 percent from three (5-11) and 63 percent from the floor (24-38). Individually, Kelby Haynes led the 'Cats with 10 points, 4-4 from the free-throw and 3-6 from the floor, and five rebounds. Dannon Rose helped with five rebounds and Cory Howard scored 5 points off the bench.

Other contributors were: Chris Born 2 points and four steals; Ethan Couch, 1 point and four rebounds off the bench; Ryan Schlichtman, 2 points and two steals as a non-starter; Tim Orrell, 2 points and two steals; and Ryan Pace who claimed his very first steal of the season.

The junior varsity team beat the Wolves to move to .500 on the season. Cassville had a big first half and led at the break 19-6 and then held on to win 42-33. Blaine Hobbs had a huge night, scoring 19 points. Couch also helped by shooting 3-5 from the floor.

On Friday night the Wildcats did not have an enviable position. After being handed their second worst loss of the season, the Wildcats had to start conference play away from home, in a new gym and against an Aurora team (5-4) who has been surprisingly good this year. Cassville put these things aside and played one of their best games of the year, ultimately losing to the Houn' Dogs but putting out a great effort.

The Wildcats took an early lead in the game, something they have not done very often this year, but the Hounds' did not get distraught and capitalized on a 7-0 run that put them up 9-6 and helped them attain an 14-11 first quarter lead.

In the second quarter, Aurora started to pull away, putting together a 10-3 run that put them up by eight. The score at halftime was 31-23.

Cassville responded in the third quarter and closed the gap to within three at 33-30, but the Houn' Dogs pushed the gap back open even further this time on an 8-1 run. Cassville then called a smart timeout and came out clicking.

The 'Cats busted off an 8-2 run that brought them to 43-39 and would see the third quarter end with the score Aurora 45 Cassville 39. In the fourth, Cassville's hard work seemingly came to fruition as they went on another ferocious run, which was capped off by a huge three-point shot from Cory Howard to give Cassville the lead at 52-51. In the final minutes of the game, Aurora scored nine unanswered points and defeated the Wildcats 60-52.
Despite the loss, Cassville did a great job in a lot of areas of the game. They drove the ball into the lane well, played good defense and shot well. The Wildcats' lane activities quickly forced the Aurora big man Cody Weatherman (6'6") into foul trouble and out of the game. Cassville's good defense forced Aurora to turn the ball over 18 times. And the Wildcats looked confident shooting the ball and shot a normal percentage from the field. The Wildcats did struggle from beyond the three-point arc, shooting 14 percent (2-14), and turned the ball over 20 times.

Regardless of the fact that he was not the leading scorer, Schlichtman was a true leader for the Wildcats coming off of the bench. The junior forward had a breakout game, scoring a season high 9 points on 57 percent shooting (4-7) and grabbing four rebounds (three of which were offensive).

Haynes had a good night as well, shooting 56 percent (5-9) to lead the team in scoring with 12. Rose also did his job, scoring 4 points, grabbing nine rebounds and tallying four steals.

Others who helped in the game were: Clint Reed with 10 points; Howard with two steals, two assists and 7 points off of 50 percent (3-6) shooting; Orrell eight points, three steals and four assists; Couch, another non-starter, scoring 3 points and grabbing three offensive rebounds; and Born, two rebounds.

The Cassville JV team beat the Houn' Dogs in a close game. After a strong third quarter comeback, the Cats held on to win 34-33. The junior varsity now moves to 4-3 on the season. Marcus Henry had a good game for the 'Cats, scoring a team high 9 points on 67 percent (4-6) shooting. Also the two Aarons, Brooks and Jamieson, had nice games off the bench, both grabbing two steals a piece.

The varsity Wildcats move to 3-10 (0-1) on the season and will play at Lamar on Friday. They will also begin play in the Spokane Tournament on Monday, Jan. 15 against Blue Eye.

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