Eagles’ philosophy put to the test tonight
Purdy’s resiliency, central focus key to winning
It almost sounds like a broken record when Jeremy Dresslaer, Purdy boys basketball coach, begins to talk about his team and upcoming games.
Dresslaer does not give his Eagles a detailed scouting report of their opponents, but he designs practice drills and scenarios to address what his scouting reports have told him.
“I know you guys, [the media], get tired of hearing it, but we are always focused on Purdy,” Dresslaer said. “I feel that if we control the things that we can control and play the type of game that I know we can play, things will work out in our favor.”
Tonight (Wednesday), the Eagles put that philosophy through their next test, as they travel to Carthage to play Blue Eye in the sectional playoff round.
Blue Eye defeated Miller, 69-39; Verona, 52-38; and Crane, 55-51, to take its district.
“They have good players and are talented,” Dresslaer said. “Anything less than our best is unacceptable for the game.”
Purdy, according to Dresslaer, put that effort through its paces on Saturday in a 55-51 upset of No. 1 seed Pierce City.
“We’ve been in that situation before, and we were in that same situation [Friday night in the semifinals],” Dresslaer said. “I’ve got a great group of guys, and we preached all year that we’re going to win a game in four quarters. The first three minutes of the first and the first three of the third are the most important, but what really matters is how you play for all four quarters.”
Pierce City jumped out to a 19-6 lead in the first quarter, but surrendered an 18-1 run to Purdy to trail 24-20 with 3:35 left in the first half.
“They hit us in the mouth early, but we were composed,” Dresslaer said. “We’d been there before, and players just had to make plays. And, that’s what we did.”
The second half was a seesaw affair. The teams entered the fourth quarter tied 39-39. In the final eight minutes the game changed leads nine times and was tied on four occasions.
The fourth quarter saw seven lead changes and four ties before Purdy iced the win with five unanswered free throws in the final 90 seconds.
The difference came down to those free throws, and a Pierce City 3-pointer that would have tied the game with seconds left bouncing around the rim and off.
“We showed a ton of poise,” Dresslaer said. “When you preach from day one, we are only worried about ourselves and doing our jobs, if we go to work and do our jobs, we will always win.”
Tyler Keeler hit the most pressure-packed charity tosses, sinking both of his free throw attempts to help Purdy claim their second district title in three years.
“Our game plan down the stretch was to make them shoot the ball,” Dresslaer said. “We have got to protect our home. Every time they scored or went on a run, we didn’t protect home. As soon as we made them play outside, that’s to our advantage.
“We got gapped out really high in our 2-3 [zone]. I didn’t like that. When we called that last timeout and we got them sucked way in, it slowed their offense way down.”
Pierce City was unable to hit the answer with a desperation 3-point shot from the corner.
“It’s a tough way to lose,” Pierce City Coach Matt Street said. “I just told my guys that tonight wasn’t necessarily our night, and Purdy did a good job of making shots. We let a couple opportunities go, but our kids played hard. I told them to keep their head up because we played pretty good, and for Purdy to beat us, that says a lot about them.”
Street said his group will be hard to replace.
“This is one of the best groups we’ve ever had as far as great kids,” Street said. “I tell them all the time – I’ve got two boys, and if mine grow up to be who these boys are, I’m going to be pretty happy with it. I’ll look back on this season, and it was definitely a success. We were just four points short of what we wanted.”
Scoring for Purdy: Hunter Cook, 10; Tyler Keeler, 10; Joby Young, 10; Colt Keeling, 9; Osiel Aldaba, 9; Jose Sanchez, 7.
Scoring for Pierce City: Donell Kleiboeker, 16; Trey Sagehorn, 11; Hunter Tindell, 11; Aaron Garner, 9; Cedric O’Hara, 2; Jackson Kleiboeker, 2.
Purdy (22-6) advances to the sectional playoff round and faces Blue Eye tonight in Carthage. Tipoff is set for 7:45 p.m.