The Tigers are finally back on the right track after defeating Camdenton 61-55 and ending a three-game losing streak
It has been awhile since Waynesville coach Chris Pilz’s club has felt the satisfaction of a win.
There was plenty to be satisfied about Tuesday night in Camdenton as the Tigers picked up their first win since January 24 with a 61-55 win over the Lakers.
“We were needing a win,” Pilz said after the team’ dismantled their three-game losing streak. “I thought our guys played pretty well, our seniors did well and little (Gunner) Reese hit some shots tonight... So we’ll take the win and see if we can build off of it.”
Indeed, Reese had no trouble finding the bottom of the net as he hit six 3-pointers on his way to a team-leading 19 points. However, Camdenton had a sharpshooter of their own in freshman Paxton DeLaurent who was playing in his first varsity game and also hit six 3-pointers on his way to a 22-point performance to lead all scorers. Fortunately for Waynesville, the Tigers managed to slow down the Laker offense enough to come out on top.
“That is what we need him to do. When he is hitting shots like that it makes the game a little easier and I was really glad to see him knock some down tonight,” Pilz said of Reese.
“DeLaurent had a good night and made a lot of shots. We were trying to guard him and I don’t know how we couldn’t find him,” Pilz added.
Throughout the first two quarters there was little separation between the two Ozark Conference rivals as Waynesville took a narrow 26-23 advantage into halftime. The game remained close through much of the third quarter as well until the Tigers closed it out on a 10-2 run that saw a 3-point lead grow into an 11-point lead. The lead grew to as many as 19 until a 14-1 Camdenton run significantly chopped the deficit before the clock ran out.
“Our guys did a great job of running offense in the first half and hit big shots at the end of possessions. Our ball movement and execution were great for most of the game and we just hit a spot in the middle of the third quarter where we did not score,” Camdenton coach Jared O’Quinn said.
Pilz noted that stopping Camdenton’s Dyllan Decker was also key in the Tigers’ defensive effort.
“Decker is a very, very good player for them and we wanted to control him a little bit,” Pilz said of the Camdenton senior who finished his night with 11 points and was held to two points in the third quarter. “We were able to shut him out in the third quarter a little bit and that gave us a little cushion to get away from them.”
While the Camdenton offense hit a little snag, the Waynesville offense remained efficient from start to finish as a total of eight different Tigers scored before the night was through. Tahje Stewart knocked down 16 for the Tigers while Tavon Diploma finished with eight and Eric Morriss finished with seven.
Pilz said attacking the high post helped open up some of the offense and that some of the younger guys who had not recorded a lot of varsity minutes came through when it came to finding the open guy.
“We want to get it in on the drive or pass and kick it out. We had a lot better shots that way when we could do that,” the coach noted. “We tried a few new guys that are a little bit better passers and if you can pass and catch the game is a little easier.”
Indeed, it was a positive sign for a fairly young Waynesville team that consists of two seniors and Pilz said that if turnovers can be cut down, the future may yield more positive results as well.
“We are just trying to get a little better each day. We got a lot of inexperience, but we are 21 games in now so these guys are no longer freshmen or sophomores,” he stated. “I really thought this is probably where we could get going, get a little confidence and get to playing a little better.
“Defensively we have been a lot better so we have been able to stop people when we have not turned the ball over. So if we can cut turnovers down and make a few shots I think we can have a fine little February here,” he added.
Although his club came up short on the scoreboard, O’Quinn is pleased with a lot of what he saw on the floor Tuesday night. The Lakers certainly missed Hunter Glynn and the 16 points per game he contributes while he currently nurses an ankle injury. However, he is expected to be back by Tuesday and others stepped up in his absence with nine different Lakers recording at least one basket.
“We definitely missed Hunter, but I’m proud of our guys and how they responded to some adversity,” the coach remarked. “We have great kids who play their hearts out for their school and community each and every night and that is something we can continue to build on.”
Looking ahead, O’Quinn said the team will need to continue relying on each other.
“Our message going forward is to keep looking ahead. We are getting better each and every game and that is because our kids are dedicated to each other,” he noted. “We will just continue to be great teammates and come in every day to get better. Everything else will take care of itself.”
Waynesville (6-14, 2-3 Ozark Conference) will look to start a win streak when the Tigers host West Plains on Friday night at 7 p.m. Meanwhile, Camdenton (5-14, 1-4 Ozark Conference) will take a trip to Rolla Friday night for a contest at 6:45 p.m.