Wildcats roll into semifinal
Bench points adding to team's effectiveness
With a solid 77-61 win over Spokane on Monday, the Cassville boys basketball team advanced to the semifinal of the Spokane Invitational Tournament.
The No. 5 seed Wildcats' reward is No. 1 seed Reeds Spring on Friday at 7 p.m.
"We're right where we want to be," said Barrett Milleson, Cassville coach. "In any tournament, you want to keep moving right in the bracket. The worst we'll play for is third, but I like the way we are fighting right now."
Milleson said the Wolves will be a big challenge for his team with their ability to muscle up inside and also hit perimeter shots.
"It comes down to discipline and executing your assignment," he said. "Reeds Spring is a very good team and deserving of the top seed. These are the types of games you like as a coach. You want to see if your team can step up and meet a challenge head-on."
On Monday, the Wildcats showed renewed versatility the floor against a pesky Owls squad that made run after run at Cassville.
"I thought we played really hard," Milleson said. "You have to credit Spokane, they have some good length. We came out and had a little jitters problem and were too amped up, and that led to some early turnover problems. Once we got into the flow of the game and settled down, we were able to make a run."
Cassville built leads of 10 and 9 in the first half, only to watch Spokane erase the advantages. The Wildcats led 36-33 at halftime.
In the second half, Cassville's bench emerged as a force the Owls could not handle.
Ethan Hoppes (14) and Trey Dalton (9) finished the game with 23 combined points.
"Those guys made some big buckets for us," Milleson said. "Any time you can get that many points off your bench, it makes you a dangerous team."
Hoppes, a freshman, was still focused on what he needed to improve on after the game.
"I rushed a couple of shots on the floor and had a turnover because I was going too fast," Hoppes said of his performance. "As a team, we have to keep believing in each other and trust that Coach is going to design a system to help us win. All I am trying to do is help our team win."
The Wildcats have bought into the system that Milleson has installed, and while Cassville still has a few wrinkles to iron out, the team is making strides, according to their coach.
"The main thing is the guys are having fun on the court," Milleson said. "Each night, we are having different players step up and lead the squad. That is encouraging."
In the second half, Cassville imposed its will on Spokane. While the Wildcats slashed to the basket, the Owls were forced to settle for jump shots. The Wildcats led 54-45 at the end of the third period and won the fourth quarter 23-16 to provide the final margin for victory. Scoring for Cassville: Noah Hadlow, 18; Hoppes and Collin Pearman, 14 each; Allen Lambel, 12; Dalton, 9; Tyler Speakman, 7; Tyler Arndt, 3.