Wildcats seek hoops revenge
Cassville, Purdy tangle for Barry County braggin’ rights
It was a game that Cassville remembers well.
A year ago, Purdy traveled down Highway 37 and ran the Wildcats out of the gym, pulling away in the second half for an 80-61 victory.
“They didn’t beat us, they thumped us,” said Barrett Milleson, Cassville coach. “You don’t just beat a team by 20 on accident. Purdy, even after graduating several seniors, still has a talented group basketball players. Purdy is a school that just seems to reload, and they play the game the right way. This year, they also have some size to go with that play.”
The Eagles enter the game 4-3 under first-year coach Ryan Stokes, who took over in September after Jeremy Dresslaer left for the Willard opening.
“Coming in here in September and not having the summer to work with these guys was not ideal,” Stokes said. “But, I feel like things are going as well as could be expected. We started off the season in the Pierce City tournament and were within 77-71 of Greenwood with seven seconds left, then we laid two eggs. But last week, we bounced back with a 55-36 win over College Heights, then beat Exeter by 30 and on Saturday topped Brashear, 66-38.
“Consistency and continuity are our biggest factors. We are still putting in our system. We won’t be the same team in January and February that we are now.”
Stokes said his team knows that Friday will be a big test for the Eagles.
“This game is like a rivalry game for us,” Stokes said. “Cassville is a solid team. They are big and physical. It isn’t that often that a small Class 2 school gets to host a Class 4 school, and we know that they’ll come in here ready to play.”
While Purdy is seeking consistency, Cassville knows that its mental toughness will be challenged.
“It’s going to be loud, and they are going to go on a run at some point and we have to be mentally tough and withstand that,” Milleson said. “We have to block those things out and create our own tempo. We fell short against Neosho of putting together a full four quarters, and that is what we have talked about in practice — win the game one quarter at a time, put four quarters together and play hard for 32 minutes.”
Cassville is led by Ethan Hoppes with 13.3 points, 4 assists and 3.5 steals per game. D.J White is also averaging 14.4 points per game.
“I was able to scout Cassville, and Hoppes is a great guard,” Stokes said. “He’s fast to the rim and creates problems for defenses. He’s skilled. The big thing for us is to match their physicality.”
Purdy is led by Fernando Garcia with 18 points per game. Mason Schallert checks in with 11 points, and Osiel Aldava is contributing 10 points per contest.
Tipoff is set for 6 p.m.