The fly route
Despite picking up a pair of wins, the last week has been tough on the De Soto boys basketball team.
Back-to-back game days are even harder with seemingly half the Wildcats' stars missing school and practices with illness.
But as tough as the Cats' two wins might have been, they've set the stage for what could be a head-turning jaunt in the sub-state tournament. The schedule makers left De Soto an open date Tuesday, and while the time will no doubt help heading into Friday's showdown with Eudora, it is even more important in getting people healthy.
It all seems to be playing out perfectly for the Cats. They'll be near 100 percent health first when they waltz into Eudora, and even more importantly, when they load up for their first sub-state game at Bonner Springs
And this team healthy could be a scary thing. De Soto has slowly climbed out of the dismal hole it started the season in and has just two losses in the last month, one of which came with team-leader Scott McElvain on the bench sick.
There's four things this team needs before it can have a legitimate chance at challenging for the sub-state crown, however.
1. Beat Eudora. The Cardinals are a very solid team, and they don't represent the best there is when it comes to De Soto's sub-state grouping. Friday's game will be on the road in a very hostile gym made even worse by the fact that it's Eudora's senior night.
De Soto needs to show it can handle such an environment. The Cats lost their last game against a tough road team, falling at Anderson County, but did beat a solid Baldwin team on the road Jan. 27.
Eudora may be tough, but the sub-state tournament is at Sumner Academy, and that could easily be a tougher environment if the home team is rolling.
2. Develop more consistent 3-point shooting. A pair of miracle 3-pointers helped De Soto win in each of its last two games, but the Cats have proven more astute and hitting regular treys as well. Between Jake Morse, JT Thompson, Erik Hill, Andre Linzy and Cory McElvain, there are enough potential players to have at least one step up every night.
If De Soto can count on at least one pouring in three or four treys, or the group combining for seven or eight, the Cats will be very tough to beat.
3. Develop Linzy. Linzy began the season by showing flashes. Perhaps the most athletic player on the Cat roster, Linzy has seen his minutes and his responsibly expand. If he can play to his potential, he can be nearly unstoppable. Coupled with some hot 3-point shooters, and the consistent presences Taylor Burnett and Scott McElvain provide, he could make the difference in a close game.
4. Grow Burnett, or clone him. Alright, Burnett has been nothing but solid all season, but I don't know how well De Soto would match up against a first-rate big man. Burnett is part of the team's backbone, but Colby Childers will miss Friday's game and Scott McElvain has proven he's the right choice at point, leaving a hole down low.
Burnett's tall, but he'd be a truer center with a couple more inches. Having two of him would be nice as well, however, adding back up to the only position De Soto's weak at.