Eagles lose title, find hope and encouragement

Wednesday, January 14, 2015
Purdy's Luiz Cruz gets fouled as he attacks the basket during the championship game of the Miller Tournament on Saturday. Jared Lankford/sports@monett-times.com

Purdy's unselfish play key to recent success, team's future

What a difference a month can make.

The Purdy boys basketball team had a long heart-to heart meeting about a month ago after 67-61 loss at Miller.

Robby Moody grabs a rebound for the Eagles during the Miller Tournament on Saturday. Jared Lankford/sports@monett-times.com

The subject of that meeting was to refocus a young team that was struggling. Coach Tommy Egan told his team that they needed to pull together and focus on doing the little things right if they hoped to win this season.

Purdy then went into a long holiday break. During that time, the Eagles had a chance to work several items that the team needed to develop.

On Jan. 2, Purdy traveled to state-ranked Crane and fell 71-30. Egan thought his team used that loss to knock off some of the holiday rust from the layoff.

Last Tuesday, the Eagles opened play in the Miller Tournament as the No. 7 seed. Not much was expected from Purdy, only no one told that to the black and gold.

They opened the tournament with a 66-55 win over defending district champion and No. 2 seed Greenfield. Purdy then used a buzzer-beating shot by Robby Moody to humble No. 6 seed McAuley, 61-60, to advance to the championship.

The win sent the Eagles hurling into the championship game against Crane. Although the magic ran out and it fell 74-27, Purdy had taken a huge step forward in its season development.

"We definitely took a huge leap forward this week," Egan said. "I'm extremely proud of our kids' effort. I thought we became an unselfish team this week. To see how we responded to adversity, it was encouraging."

With a starting lineup that is undersized and features just one senior, growth is the name of the game for Egan's Eagles.

"I thought we had a good set of practices over the long holiday break and figured some things out," Egan said. "Our first two games in this tournament, we showed great growth."

Egan even said he was even pleased with the effort against the Pirates.

"They are a great team, with shooters all over the floor," Egan said. "We battled hard, but they are a team that I would like to emulate. They are a hard team for us to match up with."

Despite the setback in the championship, Egan was excited about the growth of his team.

"Individually, I thought Tyler Keeler has had a great month," Egan said. "Tyler is a freshman and has worked his way into the starting lineup. He has a tremendous up side."

Egan also praised the senior leadership of Moody.
"Each day we are looking to take a step forward in our development," Egan said. "I think we did that this week in Miller."

Purdy travels to Seneca tonight. Tipoff is set for 7 p.m.

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