Archive for Thursday, December 14, 2006

A welcome win

December 14, 2006

There was no disguising the frustration Thursday following De Soto's second loss of the season, a 71-62 overtime game against Metro Academy.

De Soto was supposed to beat Metro. The Mavs only suited out nine players, and they didn't even all play. A better opponent for the Wildcats' fast-paced, full-court attack would be hard to imagine.

Frustrating, De Soto coach Jim Bonar said, but all smoothed over by a victory a day later. De Soto picked up its first win of the season Saturday in rolling over Olathe Christian, 85-50.

"We executed ourselves both offensively and defensively just a little bit better," Bonar said. "We made some adjustments because we had been a little over-aggressive at times, and under-aggressive at others. We are trying to do it a little better."

Junior Travis Crow erupted with the most productive night of his career and led the Cats with 18 points, but the scoring was spread far and wide as De Soto got up early and kept the pressure on throughout the game.

Andre Linzy had 17 points. Erik Hill had 16 and Tommy Elmer had 12 as nine different De Soto players got on the board.

"Metro handled our press well, but Christian turned the ball over a lot, then we got hot," Bonar said.

The Wildcats, disappointed with having come up just short against Tonganoxie in the season-opener and Metro, finally found some rhythm to go with their excruciating pace.

That was the difference, Bonar said -- rhythm.

De Soto looked lost at times in its first two games, and often appeared to be pushing the pace solely for the sake of it, rather than for any real tactical advantage. That all changed Saturday.

Smarter, quick passes led to more open shots, and more calm and calculated open shots led to more made shots.

"I was pretty disappointed after the Metro loss, but I went back and realized three of my top six didn't play last year," Bonar said. "It's so new and it hasn't gotten all the way to the kids yet."

The win was more than simply a welcome refuge from a disappointing start. It was a perfectly timed boost of confidence, Bonar said. It proved even more important as many area teams turned around to play Tuesday. De Soto enjoyed the time off and took advantage of the sorely needed practice time.

The team's new run-first scheme has been battle tested three times, and Bonar said this was the perfect time to examine it, practice it and adjust it.

"We had to beat Christian," Bonar said. "If we start out 0-3, the kids really start to doubt themselves. The kids needed a victory, no matter which team it was against. Mentally, we really needed it."

De Soto will need to be well adjusted if it hopes to take a similarly merry feeling into its next big layoff -- the 21-day winter break.

A pair of big games loom between now and Christmas, and the Cats will have plenty of opportunity to show what they've learned in the season's first week.

First up is Ottawa. The Cyclones were ninth in the Kansas Coaches Association Class 5A preseason poll, then followed that up with two victories in the Topside Tip-off tournament in Goodland.

The Cyclones beat Weskan and Colby before falling to the host Cowboys 64-62 in the tournament's championship game. The Cyclones got 31 points from senior Victor Ojeleye, who returns after leading Ottawa to the Frontier League title a year ago.

De Soto will host a rematch Tuesday with Tonganoxie.

"We're pretty lucky that we have a little bit of time to step back and talk about it," Bonar said. "Ottawa's a good team and we need to work on some things before we play them Friday."

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