Coming off an impressive championship in December's Rolla Tournament, Waynesville was at its winning ways again Friday in an overwhelming victory over Ozark Conference opponent Lebanon.
The Tigers were well on their way to victory after starting the game on an 18-0 run. Lebanon finally dropped its first bucket with less than two minutes left in the first quarter, but at the end of the period, enough damage was done as WHS led 24-2.
In the ensuing three quarters Lebanon attempted to make it a game, but Waynesville's size proved too much as the home team capped Friday night with a 75-28 victory.
Senior guard Ethan Howser shot lights-out, leading all scorers with 15 points.
Waynesville coach Chris Pilz talked about his team's recent success Monday:
Q: Your team has played pretty well lately.
A: Well, we've got healthy. We went through about a two-week period where most of our guys were sick. We played a Rolla game where we had two guys out and then we had a couple other guys that played that weren't able to practice much. But we had a little break there before we went to the Rolla [Tournament] and we got our full team. When we're all healthy, we're pretty hard to beat. Hopefully we continue to get better and hopefully everybody can stay healthy and make a run at the conference title.
Q: How did the Rolla Tournament championship help the team?
A: Our guys had a good second half last year and had a good summer. [This season] we've lost some close games early in the year, so [the championship] was good for us. We had three games that were pretty close at halftime, and then in the second half we were able to pull away from all three teams. Warrensburg, the team we played in the championship, is a good team. They had one of the better players that we'll see this year. We were able to get Kellion Williams back around Christmas and [Javante] Armstrong was back – Armstrong is a vital cog to what we're doing; he just eliminates the other people on the boards most nights. I think we're going to be a tough out when we're at full force. Hopefully playing over there [in Rolla] and winning some games gave us some confidence.
Q: In Friday's win at Lebanon, is that how you expect your team to operate if it is healthy?
A: We played pretty well. Sometimes you get into games like that that get a little lopsided and guys kind of lose focus, but we were able to play everybody. Guys came off the bench that played well and our starters played limited minutes on Friday night but they played well. We're trying to coach them to understand the value of every possession. I thought they've been doing that the last four games … We had some turnovers we shouldn't have in some of those games, but we're starting to understand how to value every possession. We've got to do a much better job at that if we want to make a deep run, but we're starting to get there.
Page 2 of 2 - Q: So for now, are you just working to perfect the little things?
A: Oh, we have a lot of things we're trying to fix. We've only had the whole group together for four games so we're just getting them to understand that every practice is very important. We've got limited practices; we're down probably less than 30 practices left, which seems like not very many. After this week, we're only six weeks out from the district tournament. We're just trying to fine-tune things. [Coaches] have picked four or five things that we think we've got to get a lot better at if we want to win at districts or get in the playoffs. We're hammering those things so hopefully we can get good enough where we're able to advance on.
Later this week, the healthy Waynesville squad will travel to St. Louis to participate in the Lindburgh Tournament, which starts Jan. 10.