Eagles claim district title
Purdy rewarded with rematch with state champion
It did not take long for the basketball players from Purdy to turn their attention from the jubilation of celebrating a district title to the next step on their playoff journey.
“We want another shot at Greenwood,” said Purdy’s Scotty Henry. “They beat us by 6 last year, and we want a chance to play them again.”
The Eagles will get that chance tonight (Wednesday) at 7:45 p.m. in Carthage in the Class 2 Sectional.
Greenwood comes into the game 25-3 on the season and is scoring 76 points per game and allowing 56.
They are led by the best shooting guard in the state according to Rivals.com a 5-star recruit in Aminu Mohammed.
“You can’t stop him, and it is unrealistic for me to expect my guys to stop him,” said Ryan Stokes Purdy coach. “He’s averaging in the high 30s in points. I think we have to contain him, and if we can keep him in the mid 20s, I’ll be happy. He is the best rebounder in the state, and we have to keep him off the boards. Aminu will get his points, but we want him to be just one and done when he shoots. No second chance points.”
Stokes also pointed to another Greenwood player in Tommy Pinegar.
“The kid is shooting the ball from 30 feet out,” Stokes said. “We have to know where he is on the floor at all times. We’re excited for this challenge.”
The Eagles are 15-12 on the year and are underwater in the scoring column, averaging 49 points per game but surrendering 51.
Squandering a 30-18 third-quarter advantage, Purdy dug deep and held off No. 1 seed Thomas Jefferson to claim the Class 2, District 12 title with a 47-45 win on Friday.
“We played great defense in the first half,” Stokes said. “We had a little issue in that third quarter, but that’s kind of been our motto. Let’s dirty it up and let’s make the game not pretty. Let’s just get stops.”
Purdy led 33-30 to start the fourth quarter, a lead that held for just 33 seconds, as the Cavaliers knotted the score at 33-33.
Osiel Aldava gave the Eagles the lead back with 7:08 remaining in the game, and Scotty Henry made it 37-33 with 6:33 remaining.
“We have a special player in Osiel Aldava,” Stokes said. “It’s more than that, though. Clay Henderson ran the point all night, Zach Brewer hit some huge 3s, Jake (Brown) came up with some huge steals and then Harley (Stephens) a couple big rebounds and a couple easy buckets when they weren’t paying attention.”
Thomas Jefferson would answer back and pull even at 45-45 with 1:09 left in the match.
Purdy took the ball down the court and ran roughly 30 seconds off the clock and missed a short runner in the lane. The Cavaliers initially had the rebound, but Aldava ripped the ball away and scored his 16th and 17th points of the game with a point-blank look.
Thomas Jefferson would have five cracks at the basket in the final 25 seconds, with each shot glancing off the rim.
“They got like (three) offensive rebounds in a row before they called a timeout,” Stokes said of the Cavaliers’ final possession. “Whew. I mean, I was sick. But we found a way. That’s been our thing every time to find a way.”
Henry was huge defensively for the Eagles, officially credited with six blocks. He finished with 13 points and 10 rebounds, and 7 of his 13 points came in the fourth quarter.
And then there was Purdy’s 7-foot senior Scotty Henry, who was the root of Thomas Jefferson’s offensive struggles as he tallied six blocks and forced several more altered shots. He also scored 11 of his 13 points in the second half.
“Scotty started out just a little bit jittery,” Stokes said. “He couldn’t catch the ball in the first half, and then he got after it in the second half. But his defensive presence changes games. He doesn’t have to score on the offensive end. He changes games with his defense, shot blocking and getting rebounds.”