De Soto boys get slow start to season
There were plenty of ugly stats to choose from when explaining De Soto's 65-39 opening-round loss to Wellsville Tuesday in the Central Heights Invitational tournament.
Only two Wildcats scored more than two points.
The Cats turned the ball over 23 times.
De Soto scored just five fourth-quarter points and failed to connect on any of its eight three-point shots.
But coach Jim Bonar didn't point any number in particular in describing the loss.
"In the fourth quarter it was fatigue," Bonar said. "But the first and second quarters, I didn't even recognize the team that was on the court."
Wellsville broke up a 16-13 first-quarter lead by outscoring De Soto 21-7 in the second quarter. The Eagles kept pressure on the Wildcats throughout the game, took advantage of shoddy passing and poor decision making and repeatedly victimized De Soto's low-post defense.
Taking advantage of sometimes over-perusing Wildcats and often what Bonar termed "lazy" defenders, the Eagle forwards had a feast.
Kyle Wright led Wellsville with 18 points. Thatcher Starling and Colin Wright each added eight from their forward positions. One reserve forward didn't even make the tournament roster, but added 11 points.
"We knew exactly what they were going to do. We had them scouted and we still didn't execute at all," Bonar said afterward. "It was laziness to get back. We didn't double down. We had our main guys standing there watching."
That led to several of De Soto's potential scorers spending much of the fourth quarter on the bench, which in turn only made the score worse as Wellsville wore out the Cats on the floor.
De Soto's own big men offered the only hope on the offensive end. It was evidence that if the Cats are to bounce back from the loss and earn the right to play three games in the tournament, the effort will have to start with them.
Taylor Burnett led his team with 16 points on 5-of-13 shooting. Scott McElvain scored 11. No other Wildcat made more than a single basket.
Burnett was at his best when De Soto was able to break Wellsville's press. He scored nine in the first half and six in the third quarter, also turning in a stellar day from the free throw line, sinking 6-of-8.
"He was playing hard and that's what happens when you play hard," Bonar said. "We're searching right now. I've got some guys in trouble with me. They lack the intensity to take care of the ball."
De Soto has a chance to right its wrongs Thursday. The Cats face (Osawatomie/Metro) at 5 p.m. De Soto will then advance to play for fifth place if it can pick up its first win of the season.
A loss would eliminate the Wildcats and place them in seventh and last place.
With only one day of practice to find what ails, Bonar said his hands will be full. Still, he was able to muster up some optimism, commenting that the problems, while glaring Tuesday, are correctable.
"We're down right now. I'm down," he said. "This is the worst loss I've ever had. Young teams make mistakes, but the mistakes we're making right now aren't due to our youth. This is due to not taking and applying what we talk about in practice.
"We have two days to come back. We're going to reemphasize the things we've been saying and I hope to see them."