One win in last week's tough Lindbergh Tournament showed signs that the Waynesville basketball team is improving each week.
Two close losses in the same tourney display a need for improvements yet to be made.
In another heartbreaker, the Tigers were outlasted in double overtime last Thursday against O'Fallon.
“We had several chances to win the game,” Waynesville coach Chris Pilz said. “We had a nice rally at the end of the game to get it tied and we had leads in both overtimes and were one play away from winning on several occasions.”
After Waynesville won its second game, it finished the loser of its third contest and fell to 1-2 in the tournament, and to 9-7 overall.
Even after the tournament Pilz was focused on the loss to O'Fallon, which marked the sixth game the Tigers could have won in a game's closing seconds.
“Just one or two more plays and we have a lot better record,” Pilz said. “You can't get frustrated. You just have to come back and continue to work on being successful in certain situations.”
Besides closing out games, another recurring problem is the non-play of sophomore forward Juwan Morgan; his physical style leads to foul trouble.
After committing two second quarter fouls against O'Fallon, Morgan was forced to sit, and without his 6-foot-6 paint presence Waynesville has struggled.
“We'd like to come out of there with more than one win,” Pilz said about the tournament, before reiterating the amount of improvement his squad has made since the season began.
With eight games remaining before districts, “we'll see if we can't get back on the right track [Friday against Jefferson City] and prepare for the end of February,” Pilz said.
A handful of players who are willing to step up and be the go-to guy make up the young team's nucleus. That characteristic is something Pilz said will work itself out, and eventually benefit the Tigers before the district tournament.
If Waynesville can correct slight fundamental mistakes such as securing rebounds – and learn to close games with an emphasis – the Tigers can make a run well after the tournament at season's end.
After all, “that's why we come to practice every day,” Pilz said.
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Waynesville will play Jefferson City tonight at 6 p.m.