Smithville High School19141117
St. Joe Leblond148915

5 senior classes had graduated since our last tournament championship and with the added motivation of losing in this championship game last year, our kids were absolutely ready to play on Wednesday night. No fancy speech needed before the game. This was completely about redemption.

“Leave nothing to chance” was our last key to victory written on the board, every 50/50 ball, every rebound, every small thing we could do, if we did them well, we would put ourselves in position to win the game going away, averting the same scenario as last year. We did just that. I thought we played well in just about every facet of the game. Yet again, we got off to a hot start, jumping on them quickly in our press to a 12-2 start. LeBlond did a nice job of fighting their way back in that opening quarter, we lead by 5, ending up with an 11 point lead at halftime. It was great to hear some of our previous talking points being reiterated by our players as I walked into the locker room. They knew we had been struggling to put together 2nd quarters and they were just as excited as I was, “Finally, we we had a great 2nd quarter” I heard. “Two more, boys”.

We remained calm and steady in the 2nd half, just methodically putting together possessions and getting stopped and when the clock had 00:00 on it, we had put together enough quarters to win the Bishop LeBlond Holiday Tournament. As I was interviewed afterwards, I laughed and had to smile about how far we had come. When we sign up for tournaments, we try and make 2 year commitments that match our 2 year cycle which meant when we committed to the LeBlond tournament, we were coming off of a year in which we won 7 games and so to get to our 7th win before the New Years and lead every minute of this tournament, it was a very impressive performance for our group. Very happy for them and the people within and just outside of our program who have worked for many years to put ourselves in this position.

Ryker Edwards led us on the evening with 24 points, he and Keltin Nitsche applied great pressure defensively and co-led the team with 4 steals each. Keltin and Andrew Miller contributed 9 points each to the scoreboard. Andrew and Rhett Foster also led us on the night with 5 rebounds each. Our +/- leader on the night was Keltin Nitsche with a very impressive +23 while Ryker Edwards and Andrew Miller also put up a very impressive +19. I thought Dawson Strickland had a great night on the defensive end, played some huge minutes for us as he continues to do all of the little things for us. Our bench leaders were great on the night. Brought a great amount of energy and were awesome teammates. Great job by them!

The Warriors will try and take the momentum from our tournament win as we turn our attention to our conference schedule. We open up vs. Raytown South on Tuesday night at home! This will be a Varsity-only event that starts at 6 PM! Need a big crowd! Hope to see you there! Go Warriors!