Tigers claim needed victory

Wednesday, January 6, 2016
Ethan Caddell puts up a shot for the Tigers during tourney play at the Southwest Holiday Tournament. Cole Jackson Special to the Cassville Democrat

Team plans to build on momentum from tourney finish

It might not have been for a state championship, but it felt like one when the Exeter boys basketball team defeated Wheaton, 54-51, in overtime for seventh place in the Southwest Holiday Tournament a week ago.

While the players celebrated, Tigers Coach Matt Tripp finally received the foundation piece that he was looking for.

Exeter's Andrew Blacke drives the ball down the court during varsity action this season. Jared Lankford sports@cassville-democrat.com

"It has been a while since we won," Tripp said. "The boys kept their heads down and just kept battling. For a coach, it is nice to finally have this victory to show them something tangible for their efforts."

The last Tiger victory occurred Feb. 3, 2015. This season, Exeter slumped to a 0-9 start, and with a tough early season schedule.

"These boys are young and putting them out there every night against tough competition took its toll," Tripp said. "The only thing we could do as a team is preach sticking to the plan and working as a team."

Against Wheaton, the Tigers trailed for three of the four quarters of the game, a familiar spot for Exeter.

"We're use to playing from behind," Tripp said. "The boys never gave up."

Codie Evatt's basket with 10 seconds left in regulation sent the game into overtime, and his 6 points in the extra session secured the win.

"Codie is a kid who came into this season in a difficult position," Tripp said. "He was the only returning starter on a team full of young and undersized players. Today, he played like a leader."

Tripp said the team will not change its approach to games in 2016, but will use this game as proof the system works.

"We needed a game like this to show why we fight," Tripp said. "Nothing is just given to you for showing up. You have to go and take it -- fight for it."

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