Win snaps De Soto’s long losing streak
The De Soto boys basketball team rode into Prairie View High School with an eight-game losing streak. The Cats lost those games despite some players having big performances in that stretch, but rare was the night more than one De Soto player seemed to be on.
Finally the Wildcats found that night.
De Soto exploded, and beneath a hail of 3-point shots and 19 points from junior guard Andre Linzy the Cats broke their losing streak, knocking off Prairie View, 59-36.
"It feels better now," Wildcat junior Erik Hill, who scored 12, said. "It feels like it's been forever. It's been difficult losing and losing, but we got through it."
Victims in blowouts and close games, upsets and predictable losses, the Cats didn't leave anything to doubt and outplayed the Buffaloes from the opening tip.
De Soto (3-12) established a 15-8 lead by the end of the first quarter, pushed it 34-20 by halftime and coasted through the second half for the win. Were it not for the Wildcats' season-long struggles and 2-12 record before the game, one might have called the win easy.
"We got to play a lot of guys and it was fun," Bonar said. "It makes the long trip home a lot better."
The most obvious difference for the Wildcats was the 3-point shot. De Soto hit 10 treys in a game earlier this season and turned to the long-ball often before the going got really bad. But it had nearly disappeared from the Cat arsenal in recent weeks as the losses mounted.
De Soto's confidence in the 3-pointer came back with a vengeance Tuesday, right from the beginning. The Cats hit a 3-pointer to take a 7-2 lead, then Tommy Elmer sank another to close out the first quarter.
Brendon Hudson hit his first 3-pointer to open the second quarter and both Brady Seaman and Travis Crow added 3-point shots before half.
"We started out the year hitting a lot, but then we fell off," Bonar said. "We tried to slow the game down. We thought we had the better team and the better athletes and we're happy to win."
De Soto hit its absolute low Friday as it hosted Gardner Edgerton. The Cats lost the game 51-64, but trailed by 20 after the first quarter. Whenever the team did manage to get it across half court, it settled for a quick shot that all too often bounded off the rim.
It was different Tuesday.
The Wildcats utilized a swarming defense to hold Prairie View down, then held on to the ball much more efficiently on the offensive end. Rather than rack up turnovers, they passed for better shots.
Never was the difference more obvious than it was late in the second quarter, De Soto straining to push the lead even wider.
Hudson grabbed a steal around mid-court and drove for the basket, but rather than take up a contested shot, he dished it to Hill. A burley forward who's never shied from contact, Hill pushed closer to the hoop, but again opted for one more pass, finding Linzy wide open and alone on the far side of the basket. Linzy caught the pass on the run and leapt to eye-level with rim before dropping the ball in, putting the Cats up 34-18 right before half.
"We still don't have the movement I want on offense, but it's getting better," Bonar said.
What changed? When did it change? What the heck happened to turn a long road trip in the middle of a heartbreaking season into the first glimmer of hope in nearly a month?
Bonar said he saw things change before the Prairie View game.
The first quarter against Gardner was the pinnacle of the team's ineffectiveness. De Soto lost to Gardner by 33 earlier in the season and appeared to be on track for an even more severe beating, at home no less. But the Cats turned it around after the quarter and threatened to cut the lead to single digits on several occasions.
The final gap was 13 points, but Bonar said the way his team rallied back from the first quarter's devastation helped set up Tuesday's win at Prairie View.
"Everything that could have gone wrong, went wrong, and this team could have folded," Bonar said. "But we had it down to 11 three times and we had chances."
De Soto will look to turn its momentum into another win at 8:30 p.m. Friday at home against Central Heights.