Eagles surging early this season

Wednesday, December 23, 2020
Zach Brewer looks for a lane to cut through during the Eagles’ win over Cassville on Friday. Jared Lankford/sports@cassville-democrat.com

Purdy overpowers Barry County neighbor

The hottest basketball team in the area — without question — is the Purdy boys squad.

The Eagles improved to 8-0 on the season Friday with a decisive, 52-19 win over Cassville in a game where Purdy was a step quicker on the floor all night long and held the Wildcats to just 5 second-half points.

Cassville’s Aidan Cook drives the baseline during Friday’s game with Purdy. Jared Lankford/sports@cassville-democrat.com

“I thought our guys came ready to play,” said Ryan Stokes, Purdy coach. “Any time you get out of school on a half-day, and you have this long holiday break, you wonder where your team’s mind might be, but they came ready to play. Early on, Cassville did a good job packing the paint, but our guys finally started hitting from the outside, and that opened things up in the second half.”

The Eagles displayed a weapon Friday that has led them to Verona and Gem City tournament titles this year — their depth.

Against Cassville, eight different Eagles scored.

“The team and I talked about that the other day,” Stokes said. “We move the ball well and are unselfish, and we give up shots to feed the hot player. Jesus Aldava came off the bench tonight and hitting some big shots, and we kept him involved. When one option is covered, we have a next-man-up approach.”

As Purdy presses forward into the heart of its schedule, preparing for the physical nature of the teams it will face are chief on the mind of the coach.

“We have to prepare for that physical grind we are going to face,” Stokes said. “I don’t know if we’re 100 percent ready to face it now, but it is something I want to focus on. We play Marionville on Tuesday and could see them again in the Southwest Tournament, so twice in eight days. They are by far the most physical team I’ve seen this year.”

Stokes believes his team has the ability to be the gritty, hard-nosed squad that dictates tempo and what other teams can and cannot do.

Friday night’s win over the Wildcats proved the Eagles are on their way. The 19 points allowed were the fewest by Purdy since a Dec. 4, 2013, matchup with Galena, where the Bulldogs managed just 19 against the Eagles.

In fact, Verona fell to Purdy by 8 points in the first game of the season, and to date, that has been the Eagles’ smallest margin of victory.

For Cassville, the season for first-year head coach Zach Kliene has not been ideal. His team is off to a 1-6 start.

A 46-42 win over Hurley on Dec. 8 has been the lone bright spot on the schedule.

As for the game and his team’s performance on Friday, the coach made his feelings clear.

“There is really nothing to say after this game,” Kliene said. “They are just better than us. We have a long way to go this season.”

The 19 points was the lowest offensive output by a Wildcat hoops squad since Jan. 15, 2012, when the team managed 18 points against Reeds Spring.

Scoring for Purdy: Zach Brewer, 15; Jesus Aldava, 11; Osiel Aldava, 11; Clay Henderson, 5; Eli Webb, 4; and Ezequiel Garcia, 1.

Scoring for Cassville: Hernan Hemandez, 5; Camron Sloan, 4; Aidan Cook, 5; Zac Acheson, 4; Timothy Hudson, 1.

Both teams will be in action Monday at the Southwest Holiday Tournament.

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