Tonganoxie boys can’t get comfortable
Tonganoxie toppled by Piper
The Tonganoxie High boys basketball team had a tough time against Piper in the third-place game at the Cardinal Invitational on Thursday in Eudora. The Chieftains lost, 59-43.
Eudora Early in the season, pressure can make basketball players do many things they don’t want to do.
At the top of such a list for the Tonganoxie High boys basketball team would be: lose by double digits.
That was the undesirable result the Chieftains had to digest following a turnover-plagued, 59-43 loss against Piper in the third-place game of the Cardinal Invitational on Thursday at Eudora.
THS (1-2) turned the ball over 21 times as the Pirates trapped and pressured the Chieftains relentlessly.
The hounding and harassment led to sloppy play by Tonganoxie, leaving little question about the team’s biggest problem in the 16-point setback.
“We need to quit turning the ball over — 21 turnovers in a game is too much,” said senior forward Keaton Schaffer.
Turnovers were a bugaboo for THS in both of its Cardinal Invitational losses. The Chieftains turned the ball over 19 times in a 55-51 Dec. 8 loss to Eudora.
THS coach Shawn Phillips said Piper did an excellent job of applying pressure to make Tonganoxie uncomfortable.
“It’s difficult to deal with early (in the season) because you haven’t had as much time to go against things,” Phillips said, “so it can be frustrating.”
Senior THS forward Justin Jacobs said Piper’s athleticism made the defense suffocating.
“That’s probably one of the fastest starting groups,” Jacobs said. “They get after you more than any team we probably play.”
The forward said the Chieftains had trouble simply getting the ball in at times, and the half-court offense struggled as the Pirates took THS out of its comfort zone.
“I think it leads to … we feel like we need to hurry up faster and throw longer passes and it caused more turnovers in the end,” Jacobs said.
Also problematic was the deteriorated confidence the Chieftains showed as a result of their struggles. By the start of the fourth quarter, THS already trailed by 14. Their body language and faces showed defeat.
Said Schaffer of the team’s struggles: “It took a lot out of us mentally.”
Phillips said the players often went into “panic mode” against traps and once they start reacting and stop over-thinking, they will make the plays necessary to win.
With the offense often hurried and out of sync, THS shot 35 percent from the floor. Even Schaffer, who scored a team-best 15 points, missed nine shots.
Only sub Austin Vickers, who was 1-for-2, and sophomore center Dane Erickson, who shot 5-for-9 and finished with 12 points, made at least half of their attempts.
Schaffer was impressed with Erickson’s play.
“He’s definitely our biggest post threat as of now,” the senior said. “Dane’s been tearin’ it up in the post.”
On the perimeter, however, Phillips is looking forward to increased production from point guard Jeremy Carlisle. The junior scored two points in each of the team’s first three games.
Phillips expects Carlisle to bust out of his early-season slump and give the team a much-needed boost.
“Jeremy’s capable of putting up some points,” Phillips said. “It would help if we could get some scoring.
“He’s struggling shooting the ball — that happens sometimes — but he’s got lots of other ways that he can help this team to have success.”