Smithville High School1982124
Plattsburg High School913911

When Courier Tribune sports reporter Liam Keating asked me after the Ballard game about what was the reason behind our hot starts to begin games, I attributed it to just the amount of experience that our guys have in all of their sports. They’ve all played in big games. They’ve done the prep work. They are at the point in the career where we don’t have to “get them up” for any game. That was true yet again on Tuesday night as we immediately got off to an 11-0 run to begin the game. It’s especially impressive by our group as this was the first time all season that we’ve been able to have the same starting lineup in back to back games so it hasn’t been the same group who has been jumping off to good starts but rather a collective effort.

Basketball, as we all know, is a game of runs and like we expected them to do, Plattsburg did a great job of slowing us down in the 2nd quarter, cutting the lead to just 5 points at halftime. Some sloppy turnovers and another stretch of over-passing were the main talking points at halftime. The message? “Go out and be you in this 2nd half.” We had guys in the first half who are designated as shooters, who have practiced and shot thousands of shots in their lives, who were passing up in-rhythm, open 3’s because they had missed a few.

We challenged them to be you. Right before we came out, I challenged them again. There are 16 minutes left in this half. If you count up the seconds which you actually have the ball in your hands this half, the guy with the most will still only have the actual ball for about a minute. What are you going to do with the other 15 minutes to help us? It’s what we do without the ball that matters this half. And that was that.

Our press, active hands, deflections and depth began to wear down a very good, young and hungry Plattsburg group and we put up 45 points in the 2nd half while holding them to 20. It was a great team performance all night long. Everyone played, 10 different guys scored.

Ryker Edwards led us with 19 points, Rhett Foster had another double digit performance with 11–also leading us in +/- with +28. Andrew Miller led us with 8 rebounds on the night and had a stellar +27. Keltin Nitsche continued his strong play with 9 points and a season high 7 assists, he also continued to rack up the steals with 4 more. Dawson Strickland had his career high with 9 points, also a stellar +25. Toby Ford came off the bench with some instant offense and knocked down a couple of 3’s to finish 5th in scoring for us with 6 points.

Most importantly, however, we made it back to the championship game of the LeBlond Holiday Tournament where we will face tournament host, Bishop LeBlond for the title. This LeBlond group has gotten better and better over the last 2 years, accruing a ton of minutes and experience and they are 7-3 on the season, including a 14 win over Maryville who we lost to in our season opener. Many will remember our instant classic game vs. St. Michaels last season where we lost the title to a controversial after the buzzer shot went in. Almost all of our current team played in that game and the sting has yet to wear off. We’ll be ready to play. LeBlond will be ready to defend their home court. It’s set up to be an awesome night and experience for both teams. Can’t wait to watch us play.