Wildcats hope to match quick start with consistency
The De Soto girls basketball team endured an up and down ride a year ago, and the first tournament of that season in a way summed up how it all played out.
De Soto went 2-1 in a season opening tournament at Central Heights. The Cats won the first game by a wide margin, lost a low-scoring contest in the tournament semi-finals, then coasted to third place with an easy victory over the host Vikings.
It wasn't a bad start, but Wildcat coach Dwight Spencer said he'd like to see a little more consistency Monday as his team opens the 2006-2007 season at a tournament featuring most of the same teams, and he's hoping that too could be a sign of things to come.
"Hopefully we'll get the right match ups. I don't know all these teams, but I would say we have a shot at winning it," Spencer said.
That's about all Spencer can say at this point -- he hopes to do well and finish strong. As for individual opponents, he's largely left guessing. De Soto could butt heads with a number of teams it knows and will see later this season -- league foes Osawatomie, Wellsville and Central Heights will play, as will the team that cast the Cats to the consolation game of the same tournament a year ago, Metro Academy.
But De Soto's first game is against Olathe Christian, and match ups with Kansas City East Christian and St. James Academy could all await at some point.
As for the basketball prowess of those schools, Spencer said he's just not sure what to think.
"I know what our league schools have, and I know Metro should be good again," Spencer said. "St. James should be very young, but Olathe Christian and KC East Christian, I don't know these teams."
Familiar with the opponents or not, a number of goals will stay the same. First, the Cats would love to do what they couldn't last year -- win it.
De Soto tips off against Olathe Christian at 6 p.m. Monday at the Osawatomie Middle School, then will face either Central Heights or Metro Academy in the second round, a game set for either 6 or 6:30 p.m. Dec. 7.
In the Cats 36-28 loss to Metro, all of the opponent's points came from former Kansas State and Kansas City Chiefs standout Gary Spani's three daughters.
The entire trio doesn't return, but enough does to keep Spencer's eyes wide open.
"Metro should still be good, but if we can get past them, we could be alright," Spencer said. "They should be one of the two best teams in the tournament."
Spencer said he likes opening at this tournament because it offers a little of everything, not the least of which is the ability to scout league schools. As frustrating as playing new, mysterious teams can be, he said the challenge that presents is also a welcome change.
But for his team, it's just time to play ball, no matter whether they've heard of the opponent or not.
"We're going to need to calm down. We have a fairly young team. Not that many girls played in the offseason, so they're going to be a little nervous," senior Kira Gonzalez said. "As long as we work hard and keep our heads on straight, we'll be fine.
"I'm extremely enthusiastic."