Burnett’s big day not enough
Flu, powerful Broncos combine to finish off De Soto’s title hopes
There were plenty of possible excuses -- good ones, too.
That's why De Soto coach Jim Bonar said he isn't concerned about the direction his team's heading less than two weeks before the start of the sub-state tournament.
But no excuse could take away De Soto's disappointment after dropping a winnable game at home against Spring Hill, 69-63.
Taylor Burnett led the team with 21 points. Andre Linzy added 12 and Jake Morse had 11, but with scoring leader Scott McElvain out of the lineup with the stomach flu, De Soto couldn't hang with Spring Hill.
"Our guys absolutely left it on the floor," Bonar said. "We played well in a very rugged game."
De Soto got behind early and was never able to take back control from the Broncos. The Cats trailed by two after one quarter and by seven at the half.
De Soto rallied in the second half, however. Burnett bounced back after having to sit much of the first half with two fouls. He put together a streak of 13-straight free throws and a Wildcat 20-point third quarter left De Soto just three back with eight minutes to play.
The deficit still proved too large, however.
Be it the absence of McElvain, or an emotional shot the team took when sophomore Shane Miller had to be carted off the floor during the junior varsity game, the Cats just didn't have it in them, Bonar said.
"We could have folded easy," he said. "They jumped out on us early and I just don't think our focus was there early."
Still, Bonar found plenty positive in the experience.
"If I can get everyone to play with that much intensity all the time, we're going to be that much better," he said. "The guys were battling and that's all I can ask."
Effort and emotion couldn't make a difference in the end and the loss virtually eliminates De Soto from the Frontier League title hunt. Even more important than that perhaps, the loss again checked what the team had hoped was finally a wealth of positive momentum.
The loss was the team's second mid-week setback in as many weeks and makes the league standings and sub-state implications all the more cluttered.
Prior to last week's loss to Anderson County, the Cats was in the hunt for the league title. Now they sit tied in fourth place, sharing a 6-3 Frontier League record with Eudora. De Soto is a half-game back from the 7-3 Gardner-Edgerton, and a full game behind Spring Hill and Baldwin, both 7-2.
"There's still some season left," Bonar said. "We need to get people healthy and stay together. The intensity was there. We didn't get out hustled. We just didn't win the game."
Tuesday's setback seemed even more disappointing when set next to Friday's resounding win at Prairie View. Although the Buffalos have had little luck in the Frontier League this season -- they're bringing up the read with an 0-9 league record -- De Soto hadn't played as well all season as it did on the trip to La Cygne, Kan, winning 57-40.
McElvain, healthy for the game, led a diverse attack with 12 points, eight coming in the third quarter. Burnett led all scorers with 15 points and 13 different Cats saw action. Ten found their way onto the scoreboard.
De Soto opened up a monstrous 21-6 first quarter lead and maintained the gap throughout the second quarter, taking a 29-15 advantage into the locker room. De Soto scored 18 in the third, and playing mostly reserves, closed the game out with 10 points in the fourth.
"It was a lot of fun," Bonar said Friday. "That was a get healthy game. It was one we didn't have to nail-bite on. If we had wanted to push it more, we could have, but why push it?"