Boys fourth-quarter comeback falls short
The De Soto High School boys basketball team finished a stretch of three games in seven days with a 1-2 record that masks the story of the team's improvement.
The Wildcats mounted a furious fourth-quarter comeback Tuesday against rival Mill Valley with a 16-3 run before falling.
"I am really proud of our boys the way they fought back," coach Jason Generally said. "The kids cut the lead to nine with three minutes left in the game and we just got excited.
"Mill Valley has an exceptional basketball team, and they have a lot of answers."
De Soto was put in the comeback mode because of the Jaguars red-hot shooting in the early going. Mill Valley's David Woods and Jake Summerlin connected on several first-quarter treys as Summerlin finished the night with nine points off of three treys. Woods also connected on three treys.
The Jags built an early 19-10 first quarter lead and never looked back. Jacob Eaton scored early and often on his way to 15 first half points.
The lead increased to 39-10 at halftime.
Mill Valley started the second half just like it the first half ended. The Jags came out with aggressive defense and forced several turnovers that led to fast break points. The game appeared to be well out of reach for De Soto as Mill Valley took a 53-30 lead midway through the third quarter, but the Wildcats came storming back and cut the lead 54-37 ending the third quarter.
The fourth quarter saw the game start to get interesting. De Soto had not been hitting the three ball all night until the fourth quarter. The Wildcats went on a 16-3 run to close the gap to 10 points at 56-46 with 4:30 left in the fourth.
De Soto cut the Mill Valley lead to nine at 58-49 with 3:58 left when Mill Valley's Woods struck. The Jag's guard reeled off eight points down the stretch of the game as Mill Valley went on a 14-2 run to close out the game and win.
In recent years De Soto would have been content with a narrow loss to a 5-1 team like Immaculata. But times have changed.
Following Friday's fourth-period collapse, which resulted in a 60-54 loss, players were proud of the effort but disappointed in the final score.
"The last three years, we built up to putting ourselves into position to play well in a game like this," Generally said. "But tonight there is not one happy player. We're proud of our effort but not happy with the result."There were plenty of positives for the Wildcats to build on. De Soto shot the ball well after connecting on 47 percent (24-of-51) from the floor and out-rebounded the Raiders by a 35-23 margin.
The Wildcats also had plenty of players step up offensively in recent games -- especially Josh Arnold, who is averaging 21 points a game since the Christmas break.
"I don't know what to say about Josh," Generally said. "Words don't do justice for what he means to this team. He's just an exceptional player for us."
With the Raiders gearing their defense to stop leading scorer Danny Brown, Arnold knew he had to step up his game. The senior scored 14 points in the first half.
"My teammates did an excellent job setting me up and getting me the ball," Arnold said. "I cut to the back door, and they knew where I would be."
Arnold scored six points in the first period on a pair of field goals and two free throws. He then tallied eight points in the second frame, mostly on layups.
De Soto took a 10-9 lead after a period of play and upped it to 24-16 with just more than a minute left in the first half when Taylor Burnett tipped in an offensive rebound. The Wildcats led 26-20 at intermission.
De Soto maintained a six-point lead halfway through the third period, but that's when the lead started to wilt. The Raiders cut the deficit to 37-35 going into the final frame.
Danny Brown gave the Wildcats a 44-40 advantage with about five minutes left in the game, scoring off an offensive rebound. But the Raiders scored the next 13 points to take a 53-44 lead, while holding De Soto scoreless for more than four minutes.
Ryan Brown finally stopped the bleeding when he connected on a pair of free throws with 1:12 left. The Wildcats narrowed the deficit to 57-52 when Chris Poelt found an open Danny Brown streaking toward the basket for a layup.
Danny Brown scored 18 points in the game after hitting for 11 points in the final eight minutes. Hunter Noe chipped in with 12 points.
Danny McEvoy led all scorers with 27 points on the night. Matt Scanlon joined the 20-point club when he connected on three threes and 20 points.
Earlier last week, De Soto scored 48 points in the first half and coasted to a 66-54 win over Tonganoxie.
Danny Brown led the way for De Soto against the Chieftains by tallying 23 points. Arnold scored 20 points on the night.
Leading the way for Tonganoxie was Shane Howard with 23 points. Kirk Rodell chipped in with 11 points on the night.