Eagles head to JQH Arena to face semifinal test
Purdy vies for Class 2 dominance
For the boys and girls Classes 1, 2 and 3 basketball teams, the season has come down to a four-team, three game tournament.
Beginning Thursday morning, the top four teams from each of the three classes descend upon JQH Arena and vie for the right to be called state champion.
Local eyes will be firmly fixed upon the Class 2 boys division, as Purdy (24-6) takes on Hayti (22-5) in the first semifinal, and Van-Far (22-6) entertains Mid-Bucannon (26-4).
For the Eagles, this trip marks the first time in school history that the boys team has advanced to the Final Four.
“It’s not quite all sunk in yet,” said Tyler Keeler, Purdy senior. “Basketball means a lot to this town. From the sound of it, the whole town is leaving early to get there Thursday. There may not be anyone left here. Every teacher has told us how proud they are of us and has wished up good luck.”
For Purdy, the ride has been electric, defeating Pierce City, Blue Eye and Crocker along the way for district, sectional and quarterfinal titles, respectively.
The Indians come into the contest averaging 74.8 points per game.
A pair of 6-0 seniors in Darius Jones and Kobe Cooper lead the way, averaging 19 and 16.9 points per game. Both players shoot above 30 percent from downtown.
Chrivantae Moore, a 5-10 junior, Ivory Winters, a 6-1 junior, and Jerrod Covington, a 5-10 junior, round out the starting lineup. Moore averages 8.2 points per game, Winter, 9.2, and Covington, 6.2.
The Indians gobbled up 34.4 rebounds per contest and have dished out 252 assists on 758 field goals.
If Hayti has one glowing statical weakness, it is at the free throw line. The Indians are 243-of-415, 58.6 percent.
The Eagles come into the game averaging 60 points per contest.
Seniors Colt Keeling and Tyler Keeler lead the way with 23.5 and 14.6 points per game, respectively. Senior Hunter Cook has 7 points per game, freshman Osiel Aldava has 6.9, and senior Jose Sanchez has 5.5, rounding out the starting line up.
The Eagles shoot 30 percent as a team from downtown. Keeler leads the team at 38.8 percent, and they are a respectable 74 percent at the charity stripe, 327-of-442.
Purdy does have the ability to play down its roster a bit.
“I can tell you right now that we aren’t in the Final Four without Mason Schallert, Joby Young and Kyler Propps,” said Jeremy Dresslaer, Purdy head coach. “Then, you have Kole Rea and Harley Stephens, who have pitched in to help along the way. This has been a team effort, and I can go down the line and tell you what each of those guys has done to help us win games. That is what excites me.”
Dresslaer said the team is focused on one game and one game only, and that is Thursday against the Indians.
“We are not looking past Hayti,” Dresslaer said. “We just want to go and play Purdy basketball.”
The semifinal game is slated for 6:50 p.m. and will be followed by Van-Far and Mid-Bucannon.
The third-place is game slated for 12:50 p.m. Friday, and the championship is set for 4:30 p.m.