The Waynesville home basketball court has hardly been used by the boys high school basketball team. That doesn't mean a five-game road stretch has abhorred the squad's success against above-average competition.
According to Waynesville coach Chris Pilz, it's still about building teamwork and improving.
"We felt like we should've won the tournament," Waynesville coach Chris Pilz said. "We could've played a lot better; we've got to work on getting consistent fourth quarters."
Since winning the season opener over defending Ozark Conference champions Glendale, 73-62, Waynesville has gone on to enjoy wins in three-of-five games for an overall record of 4-2. Even those two losses came to annual state championship contenders Rogers Heritage (Ark.) – a 1-point overtime heartbreaker – and Columbia-Hickman.
"We fought it hard and had an opportunity to win the game," Pilz said, but instead came up short.
After a two-day break, Waynesville returned to practice Tuesday to prepare for the upcoming shootout, where competition will heat up in the three-day Route 66 Shootout, Pulaski County USA – the most competitive shootout Waynesville has ever hosted.
Pilz said his Tigers unit will be prepared to play.
"Right now is a whole lot of playing and not a whole lot of practicing," Pilz said.
All three teams on the Tigers' setlist represent elite schools. Hazelwood West may have lost its previous four games, but the opposing squad will be hungry for a change of momentum against Waynesville Thursday.
Then, Chicago Ridgewood (Ill.) – a very physical team with a prospective NCAA Division I point guard – and McCluer North, the two-time defending Mo. Class 5 State Champions, will attempt to knock Pilz's team off at its home court Friday and Saturday, respectively.
"I think competition is going to be fairly good and we'll get to see where we're at [as a team]," Pilz said.
After analyzing each of the tournament's teams, Pilz said he expects a couple of very competitive, hard-fought contests.
The coach acknowledged his team's rising confidence level and said that as the Tigers compete each week, they continually show improvement.
"Our guys right now enjoy being in the gym and are confident," Pilz said. "It's a lot better than a year ago. We're just trying to encourage them to get better every day."
Getting three home wins in the shootout may be an uphill battle, but because of the fierce competition, Waynesville can certainly get better.