Tigers hoops staying the course

Wednesday, November 30, 2016
Exeter's Trevor Nelson puts up a shot in the Tigers' game against Crane on Monday. Jared Lankford/sports@cassville-democrat.com

Exeter starting at square one, moving forward

All Exeter Coach Cory Duke could do was watch as the final few seconds ticked off the clock Monday.

His young Tigers hoops squad knew they had their hands full as they opened the Pierce City Invitational against high-powered Crane.

Jared Alverson brings the ball up the floor during tournament action on Monday. Jared Lankford/sports@cassville-democrat.com

When the final horn sounded, Duke and his Exeter players headed to the locker room on the receiving end of a 101-23 thumping.

While some coaches would hide from questions, Duke freely admits that his team is far from perfect, but he is okay with that for now.

"It is about building a culture," Duke said. "This team hasn't had any sustained success because we had a lot of coaching turnover. It's going to take time, it's going to take me investing all I have in these kids to get this program playing at a high level."

With just one returning starter, Duke has opted to go young this season in the hopes of building the Tigers' future.

"Right now, I want to see a team that, no matter what the score, never quits," Duke said. "Crane is a super talented team, but we can't give up at any point. We have to play all four quarters."

Jared Aleverson, a 5-9 sophomore, recorded 4 points in the game Monday against the Pirates. He is a player that Duke believes can lead this team.

"He's our go-to guy right now," Duke said. "We need him to spark things on both ends of the floor."

Another Tiger to keep an eye on is 6-2 junior Austin Rayburn.

"He's a big-bodied player that we have to have own the paint," Duke said. "He could be a defensive stopper for us."

Exeter continues play in the Pierce City Invitational on Friday at 6 p.m. The Tigers play fellow Ozark 7 Conference foe Verona.

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