Smithville High School24152212

“What’s the record? 9?”

We have fun with records around here. Why? It’s fun. Who doesn’t want to go down in the record books someday? It may be the smallest motivating factor in any game but if going for a record makes us play 1% harder or 1% better, we’ll use that.

So when Keltin Nitsche asked me before the Lawson game, what the record for the “Steals In A Single Game” was for Smithville, I didn’t flinch.

“Nine. Jayce Tingler. 1998-99.”

The result? 8 steals. One short but still an incredible performance by him and yet another little moment which shines a light on why it’s so much fun to coach this team.

Coming into the Cameron Tournament, one we’ve been a part of for at least a decade, it’s always a familiar feeling when we walk into the Dragon’s Lair. We were able to grab the #1 seed this year thanks to the great start of our season and we faced a young, up & coming Lawson squad, coached by the great Gary Belcher, a sure-fire Hall of Famer who has more wins than I can ever dream of. For that reason, we had to come ready to play.

The Warriors were able to pick up in our full court press and full court man and extend our pressure and this led to a lot of success for us on both ends of the court. Jumping out to a 24-4 lead in the first quarter, we were able to play confidently for the entire game and use our athleticism to maintain our success throughout. At halftime, we really emphasized to our experienced guys that it was their responsibility to have a great start and end to the 3rd quarter so we could get some of our younger guys experience on a Varsity court and they did just that.

Our “regulars” dominated the first 3 quarters and left with a comfortable margin. Of that group, Ryker Edwards led the way with 24 points in 3 quarters. Ryker is now 26 points away from the career mark of 1,000 points. He will become the 10th member of that esteemed group in the history of Smithville and while he’s been pretty shy about talking about that mark publicly, it’s so satisfying to see a kid with his work ethic accomplish one of the goals that he’s had for himself since middle school. Our last practice where it was possible to show up early, there he was, 90 minutes before practice tipped off, alone in the gym getting jumpshots. 1,000 points don’t happen without a serious work ethic, incredible teammates who help get him the ball, set screens and rebound and a coaching staff who supports him as well; it’s just an awesome accomplishment for Ryker and for our program. The first of many players, we hope, who will be able to accomplish this feat.

I’ll go back to Keltin for a second, it’s another reason why it’s so important that we teach people about the game and what it means to be impactful. You’ll see 2 points for Keltin on the scoreboard but his full line of 2 points, 6 rebounds, 5 assists, 8 steals 0 turnovers and +26 with him on the floor, he was wonderful. Rhett Foster also had a great game, scoring 10 points and securing 5 rebounds in just 3 quarters of play. Cody Simoncic brought his flame thrower to the game, shooting so confidently and pouring in 13 points of his own, including three 3’s, his season high. When he’s shooting well, we’re a whole different animal.

The best part about the Lawson game? 13 guys played and 13 guys scored, including Jake Shaffer and Max McKenzie who both made their Varsity debuts and both immediately came in and gave us a boost on offense. Spencer Engle had the moment of the game where he threw down a big dunk in traffic, the bench went nuts for him and that was awesome to see. They know how much work he has put in during practice to be able to put down such a dunk and to see the joy his teammates had for him was another small example of what this team means to one another.

All in all, the Warriors had a great night. The team played very well. We had a nice team meeting the following day and reiterated and made sure that we were all on the same page for the final month. I left it feeling more confident about our group as I’ve ever been. They’re ready to go. And it sets up a rematch vs. Maryville on Thursday night for the right to go to the Cameron Tournament Championship. We have lost 9 straight games vs. Maryville, it’s the longest current losing streak to any opponent, dating back 5 years or 2,191 days. This includes an earlier loss to the Spoofhounds in the 1st game of this season which we fought hard in but ultimately lost by 7 without our football players. We’re fired up and ready to go for this one. Hope to see you all there!

Go Warriors!