COFFEYVILLE, Kan. – The Missouri State University-West Plains Grizzly Basketball team will take a 6-4 record to Independence Community College Wednesday night, Dec. 7, in Independence, Kan., after placing fifth this past weekend in the Juco Elite 8 Tournament at Coffeyville Community College in Coffeyville, Kan.
Wednesday’s game at Independence begins at 7 p.m.
At Coffeyville, the Grizzlies fell to eventual tournament champion Cloud County Community College, Concordia, Kan., 61-60 in the first round Thursday, Dec. 1, then defeated Seminole State College, Seminole, Okla., 52-36, in the consolation bracket semifinals Friday, Dec. 2, and beat Butler County Community College, El Dorado, Kan., 71-56 in the fifth-place game Saturday, Dec. 3.
Grizzly Basketball Head Coach Yancey Walker said the loss to Cloud County was “a tough one to swallow.” The Grizzlies had a 12-point lead over the Thunderbirds in the second half before they came back to take the game by 1.
“Like I said after the game, to expect to not go through any growing pains would have been inaccurate,” Walker said. “We did some things well enough to win, we just didn’t execute down the stretch. They (Cloud) did a good job of getting to the free throw line late in the game, and we were on our heels too much.”
Overall, the Grizzlies shot 21 of 46 from the field for 45.7 percent, seven of 16 from 3-point range for 43.8 percent and 11 of 15 from the free throw line for 73 percent. They also had 29 rebounds (eight offensive), 13 assists and 17 turnovers.
Sophomore Gage Wooten led the team in scoring with 25 points, followed by freshman Miles Gatewood with 13 points. Wooten also had a team-leading 13 rebounds for a double-double.
The Grizzlies came back from the disappointing loss to control Seminole’s Trojans in a slow-tempo game. “After the loss the day before, we emphasized just taking the game one possession at a time,” Walker said. “We knew that it was important to learn from the bad possessions and not bask in the good ones.
“This was a low-scoring game, but we were very deliberate offensively,” he added. “They really slowed the game down with their zone. Defensively, we were very good in the second half, holding them to 17 percent shooting (four of 24 from the field). We flew around and did a good job contesting their outside jumpers then holding them to just one shot.”
Overall, the Grizzlies shot 22 of 49 from the field for 44.9 percent, four of 16 from 3-point range for 25 percent and four of 10 from the free throw line for 40 percent. They also had 38 rebounds (12 offensive), 17 assists and nine turnovers. Wooten picked up another double-double with 21 points and 11 rebounds.
Although Butler had defeated the Grizzlies 83-70 in El Dorado on Nov. 19, Walker said the Grizzlies didn’t go into Saturday’s contest with revenge on their minds. “This was not a revenge game. We couldn’t have that clouding our judgment. We knew we could beat them, and we knew that our adjustments would be the difference, but we gave no thought to revenge or anything like that until after the game. I was proud of how our guys understood that.
“We did a very good job against their press this time,” he continued. “We made an adjustment from the first game and totally neutralized it. They had 44 points at halftime of the first game, and they didn’t get to 44 points until 5:29 in the second half of this game. We out-executed them, and we didn’t make the same mistakes from the Cloud game. I was very proud of how we regrouped and got out of Coffeyville with two wins.”
Overall, the Grizzlies shot 28 of 55 from the field for 50.9 percent, seven of 17 from 3-point range for 41.2 percent and eight of 17 free throws for 47.1 percent. They had 42 rebounds (15 offensive), 16 assists and 21 turnovers.
Gatewood led the Grizzlies’ offensive charge against Butler with 21 points and four assists. Wooten added 14 points, sophomore Marin Petric 13 points, and sophomore Kevin Nelson 11 points. Nelson also had six assists and no turnovers.
“Our bench was great, our urgency was great, and our defense was really good. We held them to under 40 percent from the field while we were able to shoot 51 percent for the game. On top of that percentage, we were able to collect 15 offensive rebounds. That is a huge number considering how well we shot,” Walker said, pointing out the Grizzlies grabbed 42 percent of their missed shots, rebounding two of every five misses.
“All in all, it was a good tournament,” he added. “We had the tournament champions beat and then had to learn a hard lesson. We grew up in a short period of time. We had some guys take a different role and accept it. We have got to keep moving forward because we have a very tough one Wednesday.”
For more information about the Grizzly Basketball program, including complete game statistics, visit the team’s website at http://www.wp.missouristate.edu/grizzly/bb.htm or call the Grizzly Basketball office at 417-255-7993.