An 11-0 run by Glendale early in the fourth quarter put Wednesday's game out of reach
The final score of Waynesville's 58-41 loss to the Glendale Falcons on Wednesday doesn't shout “improvement” for the basketball Tigers on paper, but coach Chris Pilz said it was there and he feels hopeful trudging ahead in the season.
“We've still got to work on the turnovers but I thought there was a lot more positive than negative tonight,” Pilz said. “Our guys, after the game, I really liked their body language after the game and how they handled it. They're starting to believe a little bit.”
Despite the loss, the defense played a great game all things considered.
On Tuesday night at West Plains, the Glendale Falcons (16-5) put up 110 points while star junior guard Monty Johal scored 51 points to set the Glendale single-game record while also breaking their career-record mark (he now has 1,639).
Just a week before the Falcons defeated the Hillcrest Hornets 118-110 in a game that set a Springfield Public Schools record for most points in a game.
Wednesday was the second-lowest output for the Falcons this season (the lowest being their 72-50 loss to Republic in the Blue and Gold tournament's Blue division championship game).
“It's really the first time our guys have been able to execute a real good game plan,” Pilz said. “How we wanted to defend their guys, and we did a nice job on that, and we wanted to get at the hole on these guys. We did a pretty good job at that. We did a lot of good things like jump-stopping, getting fouled and getting to the line.”
And the game was closer than the final score reads.
A putback by Johal with a couple seconds left on the clock gave the Falcons a 16-12 advantage going into the second quarter.
Senior Shaq Fregiste had a steal and a layup a minute and a half into the second quarter to cut that lead to 19-17.
Fellow senior Tavon Dipalma led all scorers with 19 points. Fregiste had four altogether but it was his defense that led Pilz to say the two played better tonight than they have all season.
“Shaq Fregiste and Dipalma, I thought both of those guys played their best game of the year,” Pilz said. “We're in a tough stretch right here, and we've had a good schedule, but I think it's a good sign that our two seniors that are playing a lot, I felt like, had their best game tonight.”
Going even further, Pilz said when it comes playoff time Dipalma may be the name no one can keep out of their mouths.
“He could be as good as anybody in the district tournament.”
Eight turnovers turned the two-point game into a 26-17 lead for Glendale with 3:12 left in the half.
However, a little five-point run by the Tigers reeled in the deficit to four before heading into halftime down 29-23.
Despite another quarter riddled with turnovers – nine apiece in the second and third – a Tanner Simpson putback with 1:31 remaining in the third pulled Waynesville within two points once again.
Garrett Freeman and Jordan Walton knocked down a pair of buckets to take the game into the fourth with the Falcons up 41-35.
After Eric Morriss made a basket for the Tigers to begin the fourth quarter, Glendale went on an 11-0 run and put the game away.
During the Falcons' run, Waynesville had three more turnovers including their sixth travel of the second half.
Had the Tigers not coughed the ball up so much, could they have been in this game and stopped Glendale's winning streak at nine? Maybe, but forcing turnovers is kind of the Falcons' M.O. Pilz said.
“These guys, they're good at turning people over too, so let's give Glendale credit,” Pilz said. “We scored at a 77 percent clip when we got a shot. We had 54 possessions, we scored 41 points on that and we only had 26 shots so we scored 70-something percent. But we turned the ball over a little more than 50 percent so that's a recipe for not coming up with more points.”
Outside of Dipalma and Fregiste, Tahja Stewart had nine points, Morriss seven and Simpson two.
For Glendale, Johal shared the team-lead in points with Jordan Walton who also had 16. Jaxon Davis wasn't far behind with 15. Garrett Freeman had seven, Winston Quinn three and Josh Call one.
Up next for the Tigers are the Joplin Eagles (8-10) at their place on Friday. The Falcons will play the Kickapoo Chiefs (14-4) on Tuesday, Feb. 7.