Purdy freshman Osiel Aldaba decides conference battle

Wednesday, February 7, 2018
Verona’s Caleb Hillhouse leaps for a rebound, and positioning themselves are Purdy’s Colt Keeling, left, and Hunter Cook, right. Jared Lankford/sports@cassville-democrat.com

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The two teams with the best records collided for the third time this season on Jan. 30, with Purdy coming out on top over Verona, 60-55.

In the game, which featured rosters chocked full of veteran talent, it was an Eagles freshman that turned the tide — Osiel Aldaba.

Clinging to a 2-point lead with 40 seconds remaining in the game, Aldaba drove to the right side of the floor and pushed a 12-foot shot at the basket. The shot was woefully short, but the heady freshman followed his attempt and won a footrace to the rebound and was fouled attempting another shot, awarding him two free throws.

On the season, Aldaba hovers around the 50 percent mark from the charity stripe. On this occasion, with the pressure of the game and all eyes upon him, he was, in a word, perfect.

The two points from the free-throw line with 30 seconds remaining sealed the fate of the visiting Wildcats and carried the day for the black and gold.

“Osiel is going to be a special player for us over the next three years,” said Jeremy Dresslaer, Purdy coach. “He does the intangibles for us. He is a great defender that can knock down open shots, and yes, he is still a freshman, but I think he makes us better when he is on the floor.”

Dresslaer said he was proud of his team’s ability to battle back against the Wildcats.

“Verona makes us a better team,” Dresslaer said. “We need to try to run practice like we are playing Verona.”

The Eagles (15-6) looked to have the game in hand on two different occasions in the second half, taking 35-25 and 53-44 leads, only to see the pesky Wildcats crawl back into the contest.

The Wildcats (15-7) took a 44-41 lead with 2:45 left in the third quarter on an Eddie Gutierrez 3-pointer.

Purdy responded with a 7-0 surge to take a 48-44 lead into the fourth quarter.

The Wildcats cut the gap to 57-55 with 3:30 left in regulation on a Gutierrez 3-point play.

“We got off to a slow start,” said Brad Stewart, Verona coach. “We only scored 4 first-quarter points and then 51 in the next three quarters. If we just hit half of the 17-point average, we win the game. I credit Purdy for playing hard and winning the game.”

Scoring for Purdy: Colt Keeling, 24; Tyler Keeler, 18; Jose Sanchez, 8; Aldaba, 6; and Hunter Cook, 1.

Scoring for Verona: Gutierrez, 22; Kolton Pinkly, 20; Caleb Hillhouse, 10; and Anthony Martinez, 3.

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