Waynesville will have their toughest test of the season Wednesday when they face Hickman in Class 5 sectionals
Some of the best basketball in Missouri is about to be played in the coming weeks.
Class 5 sectionals start Wednesday and the Waynesville Tigers (24-2) have drawn a doozy of an opponent.
The Tigers will play Hickman (24-2), who is just one spot underneath third-ranked Waynesville in the Missouri Basketball Coaches Association poll for Class 5, in Camdenton.
Hickman will be one of the Tigers' toughest challenges of the season as they have a couple of top-ranked guards.
Jimmy Whitt was described by Waynesville coach Chris Pilz as one of the top junior's in the country at his position. The 6'3” guard is ranked number 30 nationally and is a four-start prospect on Scout.com. Whitt also has a four out of five star recruit ranking on Rivals.
To go along with Whitt, Hickman is also starting senior Chris Clark.
The two are All-State caliber guards, but Pilz says that doesn't mean fans will see drastic changes in his game plan.
“We're not going to change anything we've been doing,” Pilz said. “They've got a couple of guards that are near impossible to stop, but they're going to have troubles stopping us too.”
Waynesville has a top recruit too in junior Juwan Morgan.
Morgan is a three-star prospect on Rivals and at any time he can posterize opposing post players.
“Our inside game is our forefront,” Pilz said. “If we can establish that, they will have difficulties. But if we can't establish that, we're going to have difficulties.”
Kewpies coach David Johnson wouldn't offer up any details as to what he and his team are preparing for, but it is safe to say it has to be how to stop Morgan.
“We just try to come out and play the best basketball we can play and let the cards fall where they may,” Johnson said. “Obviously we know Morgan is going to be one of their difference makers, but they have other players that can come in and make some great plays too.”
Those “other players” Johnson is referring to will definitely need to step up for Waynesville.
Specifically, sophomore Joe Johnson and senior Jaron Alexander. Those will be the two guards Pilz trots onto the court to matchup with Hickman's guards.
“We're playing 7-8 guys and every one of them are going to be crucial,” Pilz said. “They're going to have to step up and make some outside shots.”
It's going to be a tough hill to climb for the Tigers', but one they are excited to trek.
Waynesville hasn't been to the state championship game since 1951 when the Tigers played the Puxico Indians who, at the time, were averaging 89 points a game.
1985 was the last time the Tigers went to the final four, which was under coach Butch O'Riley.
Pilz said he and his team have been looking forward to this game since last year.
“We figured this would be the matchup and have been preparing a year out,” Pilz said. “This is the one everyone has been anticipating. Now, it's here.”