Willard Tigers take consolation in Kansas tournament

Michael L. Misfeldt

Davis averages 24 points per game during competitive tournament play
The Willard High School boys’ basketball team traveled to Pittsburgh, Kan., to take part in the Bill Hanson Memorial Tournament and also to Neosho for a regular season game last week.
In the tourney consolation game against Joplin on Saturday, Jan. 22, Willard got 34 points and 15 rebounds from Gavin Davis to knock off the Eagles, 71-54.
The Tigers trailed 17-16 at the end of the first quarter but was able to battle back and take a 29-23 lead into halftime. A tight third quarter kept the game close as Willard outscored Joplin 17-16 to lead 46-39 heading into the final quarter of play. In the fourth, the Tigers shot lights out and scored 25 points, while giving up just 15 points in the 17-point victory.
“This was the most mature and composed game that we have played this year,” said head coach Jeremy Dresslaer. “We put winning first before any individual want/need and we played complete team basketball for a good win against a loaded Joplin
Besides Davis’ 34 points, the Tigers got 13 points from Trey Pulford and 10 points from Hayden Brown in the win.
On Friday, Jan. 21, Willard played host Pittsburgh, Kan. and won the game 63-50.
Despite trailing by two points going into the fourth quarter, Willard clamped down on defense and only allowed two points, while putting up 17 points to take the game by 13 points.
“This game was a very intense, back and forth game,” said Dresslaer. “Our players played extremely well down the stretch in a hostile environment and erased a 10-point second-half deficit to end up winning by double digits.
Brown led Willard with 16 points, Davis added 15 points, Pulford had 14 points, Brett Hall chipped in 11 points and Cooper Wilken ended the game with 10 points.
Willard opened the tournament against Missouri Class 5, No. 1 ranked Webster Groves and played well only losing by 11 points, 79-68 on Thursday, Jan. 20.
The Tigers led 52-39, in the fourth quarter, but Webster Groves exploded for 30 points to put the game out of reach for the Tigers.
“Our boys did a great job competing throughout the entire game,” said Dresslaer. “Webster ended up going on a big run in the second half, but it was the proudest I have ever been of any of my teams with a game resulting in a loss.”
Davis led Willard with 23 points, Pulford added 17 points and Brown had 10 points in the loss.
Willard started the week by traveling to Neosho on Monday, Jan. 17, and came home with a 77-71 loss.
“It was a tough loss vs. a conference and a district opponent,” said Dresslaer. “We came out with little energy and focus. I was proud of our guys to buckle down and overturn a 13-point deficit to take the lead twice in the final minutes of the game. Neosho hit some big shots in the final minutes. Credit to their players and
Wilken paced Willard with 14 points and Hall added 10 points in the loss.
Willard is now 11-7 on the season and is scheduled to travel to McDonald County tonight.


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