Last year’s team saw early losses
Though the Chieftains' 1-5 start this season is a sharp contrast to how well Coach Mike Webb thought his team would do, it is strikingly similar to last year's early season.
Which isn't all bad for Tonganoxie, which surged in mid-January to take second in its tournament and finish with a 10-win season before losing at sub-state.
Webb said that his team, which has seen five games slip away in the closing minutes, was in a good position to mimic last season.
Senior Scott Breuer said the team was just trying to remain optimistic.
"I guess our record looks pretty bad, but we're all just trying to stay positive," he said. "Last season we started the same way and turned it around and had a good season. We still feel like we can turn it around."
Webb said he found hope in his team's upcoming schedule.
Of the team's first six games, only two were at home. In contrast, four of the team's next five games will be played in Tonganoxie.
Webb said that playing in Tonganoxie, with a home crowd behind them, could be just the thing to help his players pull together strongly at the end to win close ball games.
"I can't say enough good things about the crowds," Webb said. "My hats off to the fans and parents of players they've been so supportive and stuck with the team through thick and thin."
Fouls and free-throw shooting should also affect how the team finishes its season.
In each of its six games this season, the Chieftains have committed more fouls and shot fewer free throws than their opponents.
Last week, the Chieftains went to the stripe half as many times as Lansing. Tonganoxie lost by only three, so it's easy to see what effect even the smallest shift in that department could have on a game.
Committing fewer fouls could be the way over the edge into a win for the team.
Webb said that, although the close losses had hurt, his main focus was not on past game, but on keeping his team optimistic and focused on winning future games.
"I told the kids what we're going through is character building and to just keep their heads up," he said.