Wildcats find rhythm, take fourth at Spokane

Thursday, January 24, 2008

For a dancer it is everything - the timing, the beat - it all plays into how well they perform. But dancing is not the only thing that takes rhythm. Rhythm is found in almost every aspect of life and it seems for the Cassville Wildcats their beat has been found.

The Wildcats took fourth place at the recent Spokane Tournament, continuing a recent trend of success for Cassville. Through their first eight games of the season, the 'Cats were 1-7 while over their past 10 they are an even 5-5.

So what's behind Cassville's recent success? Up-tempo play? Full-court presses? High-scoring affairs? Nope. Instead, the Wildcats have found success slowing down the ball. This style is often used by Southern Illinois University and even launched that team to a Sweet 16 birth in the NCAA Tournament last year. Much like the Salukis, the Wildcats have found success with a slower game plan.

This week in the Spokane Tournament, Cassville beat Verona but lost to both Spokane and Blue Eye.

Cassville kept Verona's star player Zack Smith under control just enough in the first contest to win 48-41. The Wildcats trailed after one quarter but outscored Verona 11-3 in the second frame. That gap proved to be the difference in the game as Cassville held on to beat the tournament's fourth seed.

The Wildcats then faced top-seeded Spokane. Last year the Owls ran up and down the court on Cassville and beat them by 30 points. This year Cassville commanded the tempo and kept the home team off-balance.

Cassville got out to an early 13-12 lead but could not hold it. The Owls went up 28-23 at half time and were able to keep Cassville in check for the rest of the contest, eventually winning 52-39.

Cassville's final contest was against the Blue Eye Bulldogs. The Wildcats had faced Blue Eye before and dropped that contest 35-56. However, Cassville's new pace would again help them.

The Wildcats' slower rhythm and their top-notch defense allowed Blue Eye only 9 points in the entire first half, leaving Cassville with a 10-point lead.

However, the Bulldogs found their stroke in the second half, outscoring the 'Cats 33-22 in the final two frames. Cassville had a shot at the game winner, trailing 42-41. Kelby Haynes had a good shot for the final basket, but ultimately the shot missed, and Haynes was called for a questionable charge.

Senior Clint Reed led the team this week. Reed averaged 12 points and three steals per contest.

Dannon Rose also had a good week. The senior found dominance on the boards, pulling down an average of seven rebounds per night. He also averaged 5 points an outing.

Others Cassville scoring averages this week were: Cory Howard 8, Marcus Henry 6, Martin Hernandez 6, Haynes 4, Ethan Couch 1 and Nashe Lugeanbeal 1.

The Wildcats, coached by Randy Robertson and Jeremy Faubion, are now 6-12 on the season. They will travel to Carl Junction this Friday to try to pick up their second Big 8 win. Next Tuesday, Jan. 29, the 'Cats will host future district opponent McDonald County.

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