Seniors plan big finish
Wildcats to trip to Baldwin to open postseason tournament
Just one chance left - at least one easy chance, anyway.
Four De Soto seniors, four of the main engines who helped drive the team after last season's three-win debacle, will play their last game at De Soto High School Friday.
Andre Linzy, Erik Hill, Travis Crow and Nick Cardiff will suit it up one final time at home to take on Louisburg, Friday at 7:30 p.m.
"It's four guys I love to have around - just good kids," De Soto coach Jim Bonar said. "They were all there to struggle with us last year, so I really wanted to do well and win the league with them. Sub-state, then, is a bigger goal."
The game won't just be important as a farewell to several important players - it'll also prove to be a key check on the team as it heads in to the all-important sub-state tournament.
De Soto lost its third game in its last four Friday, falling at Gardner Edgerton, 52-46. That continued slump comes after the team was scorching hot through much of December and January, winning seven of nine at one point.
The team's struggles started with a game at Louisburg, however, a listless performance the Cats lost 65-57.
De Soto now has a chance at revenge against the team that started its slide.
It then travels Monday to Baldwin as the No. 8 seed in the sub-state tournament. The Cats will face No. 1 Baldwin at 7 p.m. Monday.
De Soto already beat Baldwin once this season, Linzy pouring in 27 as a part of a 54-48 victory.
It may need a better performance than it turned in Friday at Gardner. The Cats weren't bad, but gave ground the third quarter and weren't able to catch back up.
"We weren't moving the ball well," Bonar said. "When we did get an opportunity, we were fouled and we didn't hit our free throws."
De Soto took an early lead thanks to a pair of Brendon Hudson three-point shots in the second quarter, going up 23-19 in the waning seconds of the first half.
Gardner answered with a trey at the buzzer, however, cutting the lead to one. The Trailblazers scored again seconds into the third quarter to take a lead. Gardner pushed its advantage to seven points by the end of the quarter, taking advantage of as stagnate Wildcat offense that scored only five points in the eight-minute period.
"I don't think that sunk us," Bonar said of Gardner's late first-half three-point shot. "It might have gotten them going, but it didn't sink us. We came out with some offensive inefficiency. We just struggled."
Hill scored to bring the Cats back within one possession, 38-35, early in the fourth quarter, but De Soto would get no closer.
"It came down to three or four big plays, a couple buckets here or there," Bonar said. "Our kids played hard. It wasn't' a major turnover fest. They just made a few plays down the stretch that really hurt us."
The game helped spoil any chance De Soto had of finishing atop the Frontier League, though the team still has plenty to play for.
The sub-state tournament kicks off Monday. Friday's Louisburg game won't have an effect on the tournament's seedings, De Soto's 9-10 record likely landing the team in the lower half of the bracket.
The Cats will have to travel to their opponent's gym for the first round game. If they win, the rest of the tournament will be at Spring Hill.
"I'd like to send the seniors away with something special to remember," Bonar said. "I'm extremely proud of them. We're almost the same team we were last year. We knew we were young last year and early on some things didn't work out and we didn't believe in ourselves.
"Just to see their maturity level rise and the belief in themselves, that's what I'm most proud of."