riding momentum to sectional

Wednesday, March 2, 2016
Purdy's Jonatan Salazar cuts to the basket during the Eagles' win over McAuley Catholic on Friday. Jared Lankford sports@cassville-democrat.com

Purdy to face large Marionville team for quarterfinal berth

Coaches tend to worry about every detail when it comes to their teams, no matter how minute.

Tommy Egan, Purdy's boys hoops coach, is no exception.

Egan's Eagles (19-8) fly into tonight's (Wednesday's) Class 2 sectional playoff game against Marionville (19-10) on the heels of the team's best performance of the season in a 83-64 district title win over McAuley Catholic on Friday.

The question on Egan's and several others' minds is, can the Eagles repeat their spectacular performance?

"I spent some time asking myself that same question," Egan said. "But, this is a very special group of players. They have played at a high level all season long. We haven't played down to lesser teams, and that gives me hope that we aren't as susceptible to let-downs."

Another factor that gives the Eagles hope as they ride into the playoff contest is the way the town and fans have embraced the players on the floor.
"These boys are a hyper group, and they feed off our crowd's energy," Egan said. "I've never had a team react and draw their energy from the stands like this team. Our town has really embraced and supported this group."

The Comets, according to Egan, are big and athletic.

"They remind me a lot of Pierce City," Egan said. "They want to slow the pace down and control the tempo. I expect we will see a zone from them."

The Eagles are led in scoring by Tyler Keeler, who is averaging 14 points per game. Luis Cruz is second on the team with a 12.5 points per game average, and Sydney Birge is third with an even 10 points per contest. Jonatan Salazar leads Purdy with 154 assists on the season, 5.7 assists per game.

One other thing the Eagles discussed in team meetings this week was not being satisfied with their accomplishments so far.

"We know we have to play with the same energy and intensity had we had against McAuley," Egan said. "We have so much more that we could accomplish, but we can't rest on these wins. We want more."

Tipoff is set for 7:45 p.m.

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