Eagles fall in district championship contest

Wednesday, March 3, 2021
Purdy senior Osiel Aldava rebounds and adds 2 among a mass of Miller players in Saturday’s loss to the Cardinals in the district championship. Kyle Troutman/editor@cassville-democrat.com

Miller pushes past Purdy, 43-27

The Purdy boys basketball team went from playing three games in the month of February to vying for a district title on Saturday, and the Eagles came up just short in a loss to Miller, 43-27.

Ryan Stokes, Purdy boys basketball coach, said the Cardinals played a great game.

Purdy’s student fans brought the noise to Saturday’s district championship game, celebrating a steal and layup that brought the contest to a 9-point deficit, the closest the Eagles would get in the fourth quarter. Kyle Troutman/editor@cassville-democrat.com

“We had a slow start and were down I think 17-13 at halftime,” he said. “Miller just did a good job defending us.”

Purdy was down 12 with 5 minutes to go, and the lead was cut to 7 at about the 4-minute mark, thanks to a 3-pointer, then a steal and easy layup.

Miller, however, closed out the contest with free throws and defense.

“We went on a 9-0 run to bring it back to 7, but they did a good job getting it to their guys that could make free throws,” Stokes said. “Our kids played hard. Miller is a good team, and when you can’t score, Miller is a great team.”

Purdy arrived at the title game by besting No. 4 Sarcoxie, 48-38, in the semifinals on Thursday.

That 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,” Stokes said. “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.

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.”

Stokes said overall, the season, which finished at 16-6, was a solid one, though the Eagles would have liked at least one more game.

“It went well,” Stokes said. “We won two tournaments and got second in a tough conference with only one loss. We accomplished a lot of great things, but we wanted a district title, so it wasn’t totally satisfying.”

Stokes said most of all, he will miss this year’s crop of seniors.

“I’ve had them for three years, and they are one of the best groups I have ever got to coach,” he said. “They are good kids and fun to be around, and they are good players, too. I shed a lot of tears as I told them congratulations on this season. I know they will go on to be good men, husbands and fathers with their character and work ethic. It will be tough and different without them.”

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