To be the best, a team has to play the best. Tuesday, the DeSmet Spartans made the trip to Cape Central for a big non-conference clash. The end result was not what the Tigers were looking for, yet the experience is one that may pay off in the end. DeSmet came away victorious, winning 56-52, after withstanding a furious Tiger comeback. Cape Central is now 10-3 on the season after dropping its last two contests.
The Spartans came into the game with a 10-3 mark and two players measuring 6-10 and 6-9. That created some issues for the Tigers, as the tallest player on the roster is 6-6 freshman Cameron Williams. “DeSmet’s skill level and size make it a tough matchup for us, but I think our guys competed very hard and our effort covered up some of those deficiencies,” said head coach Drew Church. Doreante’ Tucker said that facing that type of size has a tendency to change a team’s approach. “Yeah, when you have two guys just about seven feet tall, you have to be careful about some of the shots you take because they’re always lurking,” he admitted. “I think we were just a little too passive and not attacking enough at some points in the game because of the bigs that they have.”
Cape Central led a good part of the first quarter before trailing by two at the end of the first eight minutes. But DeSmet increased the lead to 26-18 at halftime. No Tiger could really get on track offensively. Tucker and Tyrus Reddin each had four first half points, but the Spartans were certainly keeping the Tigers’ explosive offense in check.
CHS picked up the pace in the third quarter, but unfortunately, so did DeSmet. Led by four more points from Reddin, the Tigers had their best offensive output of 13 points, but the Spartans countered with 17 to take a 43-31 lead into the final quarter. DeSmet had drained three three-pointers in the first half, but netted three more in the third quarter to maintain a commanding lead.
But in the fourth quarter, the Tigers figured something out. They furiously tried to cut into the lead, and with 19 seconds remaining, had whittled down the lead to just two points. But they just couldn’t find the equalizer and dropped the contest by four. “We tightened up our pressure defensively and were fortunate to create some turnovers,” Coach Church pointed out. Tucker, who scored seven points in the final period, said the team kicked it up a notch. “We just picked up the intensity,” he said. “Our ‘Jungle’ and fans got into the game more, and we just had an attacking mindset.” Anthony Mackins scored three of his seven points in the fourth quarter, and noted the approach didn’t really change. “We just kept the same plan, and that was to play hard and get back to ‘us.'” he said. “We played great as a team and stayed together.”
Tucker and Reddin led the way with 13 and 12 points respectively. Williams ended the night with nine points, while Mackins had seven. Zach Moore, Jon Brandtner, and Dorian Triplett each tallied three points, while Darion Triplett rounded out the scoring with two points. The Tigers had opportunities at the free throw line, making the trip there 20 times during the night. But the team was only able to convert ten of those charity tosses.
Playing top competition around the state isn’t unusual for the Tigers. Coach Church said that there is a reason behind that strategy. “We try and play the best competition we can, regardless of the size of the school, to try and prepare us for the end of the year,” he noted. “I feel like tonight, although we lost, will help us going forward.”
Cape Central will try to get back into the win column Friday at New Madrid County Central. Varsity should get underway around 7:30 p.m.