Eagles rely on size, speed

Wednesday, November 17, 2021
Purdy’s Ezequiel Garcia looks for space to put up a shot in last year’s district championship game against Miller. Kyle Troutman/editor@cassville-democrat.com

Inexperienced Purdy boys aim to use weapons available

From last season, the Purdy boys basketball team lost four starters, 85 percent of its scoring and 75 percent of its minutes, but inexperience is not an excuse the Eagles will accept.

Heath Carmichael, in his first year at the helm of the program, also his first head coaching job, said though the 16-6 team from last season is gone, there are bright nights ahead for this year’s group.

Jesus Aldava cuts inside for a shot during the district championship last season. Kyle Troutman/editor@cassville-democrat.com

“We will be a bit inexperienced at the varsity level as far as minutes played,” he said. “But, we are older and have a handful of upperclassmen and underclassmen competing for varsity time. I’m excited most about our many guards that are extremely athletic and compete strong on offense and on defense.”

Along with a bevy of sizable and quick guards, Purdy will have some serious size in the paint.

“Junior Daxton Henry is about 6-8 and will play in the center for us,” Carmichael said. “Senior Jesus Aldava is our only returning starter. He was a role player in last year’s team, so we will rely on him a lot more this season, both offensively and defensively.”

Two more lettermen are returning this season, senior Eli Webb and junior Ezequiel Garcia.

“Eli can stretch the floor and shoot, as well as play internally,” Carmichael said. “Ezequiel is a junior guard that got about 15 minutes per game last year and will be a big help to us.”

Carmichael said the Eagles’ defense will be the focal point, and shooting is a skill that could use a boost.

“Our greatest strength is our defense, and we have to pride ourselves on playing it well,” he said. “We have size at guard and internally, and we have a lot of athleticism. But, for us to be able to compete consistently, we have to shoot at a better clip, and we do have a few that can shoot. We also have to value the ball and limit our turnovers. We want to get good looks every time we go down the floor.”

As far as the experience, Carmichael said chemistry will be key.

“Our biggest thing in practice right now is building chemistry,” he said. “We are throwing a lot at them offensively with mixing up actions and being hard to guard, but we are building relationships and learning how to play together.”

Purdy is coming off a district title appearance, and Carmichael said the goal is no less.

“Our main goal is to win the conference and district championships,” he said. “At the start of the season, everyone has high aspirations, and that’s what we are going for. We also have some offensive and defensive goals, like field goal percentage as a group and limiting our turnovers.”

To that end, Carmichael said the more intense games of the season will likely be those standing in the way of meeting goals.

“Any conference game will be big, like Southwest or Crane, and maybe Blue Eye,” he said. “But, to us, all of them are big games, and we can’t look past any opponents.”

Purdy opens the season on Saturday, facing Wheaton at 1 p.m. in the Verona Tip-Off Classic. The first home game is on Dec. 10 against Exeter.

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