'Cats finding emotional drive

Wednesday, January 6, 2016
The Cassville boys basketball team opens Big 8 play on Tuesday at Mt. Vernon. Noah Hadlow looks to lead the Wildcats to a conference-opening win over the Mountaineers. Cole Jackson Special to the Cassville Democrat

Cassville begins Big 8 play on Tuesday

Barrett Milleson, Cassville boys basketball coach, only knows one way to lead -- with pure 100 percent passion and enthusiasm.

Consequently, he expects the exact same from his players on the court when they play.

Milleson was the first one to greet his team after defeating Southwest to open play in the Southwest Holiday Tournament -- every player got a hand shake and special private message from their head coach.

"You have got to be enthusiastic if you are going to be a coach," Milleson said. "You want players that are inspired. You can't get that if you aren't providing the leadership."

Milleson has brought a different flare to the coach's box at Cassville. He talks effort and energy during his timeouts speeches and reminds his team that he believes in them.

He believes winning is just a byproduct of the effort put into the game.

"Right now, my main concern is not win or losses," Milleson said. "My concern is getting five guys on the floor who play hard, who play my game and who give me all they got. If I get those, I can live with the game results."

A fourth-place finish in the Southwest Holiday Tournament exposed Cassville's true heart. The Wildcats rallied from two 8-point deficits to top the Trojans in the opening round, then ran into a buzz-saw Pea Ridge (Ark.) squad and finished softly to Gentry (Ark.).

"Pea Ridge was an extremely disciplined and sound team," Milleson said. "I complimented their coach on how hard their guys played. I told our guys in the locker room that Pea Ridge plays the way I want us to play. They weren't the biggest, but the played the hardest."

Cassville opens Big 8 Conference play at Mt. Vernon on Tuesday and at Carl Junction on Thursday.

"Basketball in the Big 8 is tough," Milleson said. "We open with two really good teams. I want to see us go out and compete for 32 minutes. If we give it all we got, that is all I can ask for."

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