District title on the line
Purdy tops Sarcoxie in semifinals, 48-38
The Purdy boys basketball team had only played three games in the month of February, but no amount of rust was heavy enough to knock the Eagles off their game in the district semifinals Thursday.
Purdy, 16-5 and the No. 1 seed in the Class 3, District 12 Tournament, bested No. 4 Sarcoxie, 48-38, and will host Miller Saturday for district title bragging rights.
Thursday’s game started a bit slow for both teams. The highlight of the first quarter was a Zack Brewer 3-pointer from the corner of the arc at the buzzer, putting Purdy up 12-4. The second quarter wasn’t much better, with the teams going into the break at 18-10.
“We started off pretty rusty,” said Ryan Stokes, Purdy boys basketball coach. “But defensively, we contested shots and held them to one change per possession. We put ourselves in a position to be successful.
“Offensively, we don’t score a ton of points, but we make people defend. We believe there will be a breakdown eventually, so we are patient and do what we do.”
Senior Clay Henderson said the team was definitely rusty at the start, but the Eagles found a groove.
“We started clicking and shots started going in more,” he said. “Even when we aren’t making a ton of shots, if we can hold teams to the mid-40s, that gives us a good chance to win.”
The game opened up for the Eagles in the second half, and right out of the gate. Purdy went on a 12-2 run, and by the end of the frame had built a 34-20 advantage.
In the final quarter, Sarcoxie whittled the lead to only 7 points, but Purdy was able to close out the win.
Senior Zack Brewer said confidence building throughout the game helped in all areas.
“It helped us hustle to make plays and win those 50-50 balls,” he said. “By the end, we just needed to shut it out, be intense on the defensive end and with our possessions, and not let them get easy shots.”
The Eagles now move on to the district championship game, facing a No. 2 Miller squad (19-7) that dispatched Southwest, 50-40, in the other semifinal. This is the first meeting between the two teams this season. Last year, Purdy defeated Miller at its tournament, 44-43.
“I’d like us to be a little more aggressive,” Stokes said. “Teams like to play us in a zone, so we have to play more aggressive and get them out of it, which is what we did in the second half against Sarcoxie.”
Now in the do-or-die point of the season, Stokes said he expects more efficiency from his squad against Miller.
“They will be good, so we will keep working on our defense and do some shooting in practice,” he said. “it will come down to defense and blocking out well.”
Brewer agreed that defense will remain a focus.
“We’ll do some more work on the defensive end, especially in late-game situations,” he said. “We also have to make the right passes when we have the ball and play smarter all-around. We will probably shoot some, but like they say, defense wins championships.”
Henderson said he’s excited to get to play for a title at home.
“[Thursday night] got us ready, and we have great support here at home,” he said. “We think this is a tough place for other teams to play, so Saturday should be a good night and really fun.”
Stokes said getting to host the game is certainly an advantage.
“We have kids in this town that love to come scream and yell,” he said. “It’s also good for the community to have some district basketball games here. There were a lot of people here tonight, and I expect there to be even more on Saturday.”
Scoring for Purdy Thursday: Zack Brewer, 13; Cash Keeling, 12; Osiel Aldava, 9; Clay Henderson, 7, Jesus Aldava, 3; Eli Webb, 2; and Jake Brown, 2.
Tip-off against Miller is scheduled for 6 p.m. Saturday.