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TourneyTime PCE

By Brian Besch
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Polk County hosted two basketball tournaments over the weekend, with champions still to be decided after press time. The Big Sandy and Goodrich tournaments are fixtures for the first weekend in December and packed with plenty of hoop action.


Onalaska got off to an 11-0 start versus Splendora in the morning game of the Big Sandy tournament. That was extended to a 30-8 lead by the end of the first quarter. Johnny Byrd had 16 points in the opening period and the Wildcats by the lake would cruise to an 89-70 win. Johnny Byrd finished with 18, Bryan Wyatt led with 20, Ryder Humbird-Smith had 17 and Patrick Roth had 11.

“We’ve always had good first quarters – not quite that good – but whenever you are putting up 30 in a quarter, that is good pacing,” Onalaska coach Nick Tyerman said. “We just have to do a better job on defense. For some reason, the second quarter keeps being our Achilles heel. We let other teams get hot and we’re not scoring as much. We’ve got to fix that. Sometimes, I think that maybe I’m getting myself into a bind of leaving the first group of five in a little too long and maybe they are a little too tired in the second quarter. I’ve got to do a little better substituting so we can keep our tempo and pace up.”

Friday began with Orangefield, and the Wildcats were down after the first quarter 27-17. The Bobcats’ were able to hang on after the quick start for a 74-61 win over Onalaska. However, the Wildcats did close the margin to a single possession in the second half. Wyatt scored 15 and Byrd had 14.

“A lot of that stuff is on me,” Tyerman said. “We have to prepare better. I was extremely proud of the boys because we got back, and at one point, we were within three. The kids that normally knock down free throws missed some free throws that would have made it a tie game or even a lead. A lot of teams with high school kids, it is tough if you come out and struggle early to rebound after that. They showed real resiliency and I am proud of that.” 


It took until the final minute of the first quarter to break a scoreless tie, but once they did, Big Sandy was able to secure a Thursday morning win. After a 2-2 opening period, Big Sandy trailed West Orange-Stark at the half by one. However, a 30-point second half, while holding the Lady Mustangs to six points would be more than enough for the 41-18 victory. Savanna Poncho led with 15 points, Briana Miles had seven and Faith Geller six.

“Both teams struggled to score in the first half really,” Lady Cat coach Ryan Alec said. “We really haven’t been in that situation all year long, so it was good for us to kind of experience that. In the second half, we made some adjustments. I thought we were pretty stagnant as far as driving the ball and we were standing around too much on the outside. We did shoot the three quite a bit, but for us to get open against an athletic team like that, we talked about driving more to the basket and attacking gaps more, spreading the floor out a little more. We use a lot of base line stuff and we’re trying to work on base line attacking. That freed up some shooters. Luckily, we knocked down some shots. Defensively, I thought we did a pretty good job. They were big and we were overmatched defensively, as far as athleticism and size. We emphasize a lot on blocking out and rebounding.”

Woden proved to be a bigger challenge on Friday, as the Lady Eagles took a 36-32 win. The margin was just two near the end, but the Lady Cats could not get attempts to fall. Poncho again was the leading scorer with 15 points.

“I thought we played a great defensive game and their defense was pretty good,” Alec said. “They are not overly athletic like some of the teams that we have played in the past two days, but they are very well coached and they get out and play hard and get after you defensively. We missed some opportunities and throughout the course of the game we made some mistakes. We had our chances, but came up short against a good team.”


By the time Warren put points on the board Thursday, there was 5:14 remaining in the second quarter and Big Sandy held a 25-point advantage. The Warriors were also shut out in the fourth period. Big Sandy would go on to claim a 67-11 victory. Tavian Battise had 17 points, Zane Alec had 15 and Jamesley Flowers 11.

“I thought our defense was really good,” Big Sandy coach Kevin Foster said. “We made everything very difficult for them when they tried to get a shot off. Not only that, but we finished our possession with good rebounds. Offensively, I would like for us to be a little more crisp with the ball and the movement of the ball. I thought we were a little stagnant at times, but overall, it is a good win and they will all get tougher from here on out. It is a good way to start the tournament.”

A Friday win was taken over Woden 53-29, led by the Wildcat defense. The Eagles’ 15-9 first-quarter advantage was short lived. Woden had trouble finding the bucket, as Big Sandy clamped down to allow seven in the second quarter, then seven through the second half. Javen Criswell hit six three-pointers and had 21 points, while Nick Ortiz had five from long range and 17.

“We start off slow, and early on, I thought our defense wasn’t good,” Foster said. “They were knocking down shots and scored 15 in the first quarter. Our defense really tightened up after that. I thought their defensive intensity was good and we weren’t crisp with our execution. I think once we settled in we were OK. It was one of those games where it takes you awhile to get going. Javen is really good and he can play different positions, so it is hard to prepare for him.”


The Lady Hornets won their Thursday game to enter the winner’s bracket, a 38-33 triumph over Colmesneil. Down five at the half, Goodrich utilized a strong third-quarter performance of 16 points to take the lead for good. Latrina Morgan had 15 and Tanyreauna Criswell had nine.

“There was no defense and we were always in a rush to shoot the ball,” Lady Hornet coach Pinellafie Johnson said. “We dribble too much with our head down. As soon as we catch the ball, we have to look and we are having a poor time taking care of that. If we don’t play some defense, we let one girl just drive around us. That’s not defense. I tell them all the time that this game is played with their feet and we really have to work on that. We got the job done and it was nice to get the win, but still, going into district, that is not going to cut it for us.”

On Friday, opportunities were there at the end of the game, but Richards escaped with a 44-41 win. A poor first half had the Lady Hornets playing catch up the rest of the way. Down nine points at the half, they closed the gap to two by the end of the third. Morgan led all scores with 24 points.

“It was so simple – defense – just guard a girl. We turn our back and just leave someone open. I don’t know who we think we are guarding with someone behind us,” Johnson said shaking her head. “Offensively, we are still rushing everything. Until they learn to move their feet and play defense, it’s just not going to work. We missed enough free throws to win the game. We have to learn to connect when we get that opportunity.”


Goodrich claimed their first win of the season in four tries versus Shepherd JV 60-41 Thursday. Outsized, the Hornets were still able to rebound with the larger Pirates for a three-point lead at the end of the third period. An 18-2 fourth quarter with a full-court press decided it. A’Mareion Bookman had 22 points and freshman Marquis Robinson had 10.

“That is our first win and we decided to play a little defense,” Goodrich coach Lester King said. “We got a little lead and then we thought it was time to just score and stop playing defense. When we started playing defense, we got ourselves back in the ball game. If we would have kept playing defense, we would have pulled away. We aren’t perfect, but we got better.”

The Hornets again turned it on late Friday versus Richards, but fell a bit short at 40-38. Down double digits in the third, Goodrich made a furious comeback that fell just short in the final minute. Bookman again led the team in points.

“We were just dumb on defense and acted like we didn’t know who to guard, when to guard, or where to guard,” King said. “The pressure got to us and we came back really good, but we let it get too far behind. When we threw the ball away, they went and scored. We look better and we are going to keep getting better, because next week we have three good days of practice and go to a tournament. It was a good game.”

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