Tigers fall in district opener at home
"We didn't play like I thought we would play coming in." Nevada Tigers head coach John McNeley couldn't have summed up his team's performance much better as they opened the district tournament against the Cardinals of Clinton High School at Wynn Gymnasium Monday night.
Despite having beaten the Cardinals earlier in the season and having the same number of wins overall, the Tigers were seeded below Clinton in the tournament, thus acting as the home team. In a much different ball game than the first meeting, the Tigers couldn't seem to get much of anything going on either end of the floor and that ultimately allowed the Cardinals to pick up a 51-36 victory.
In the first meeting between the two squads at Wynn Gymnasium on Jan. 5, senior Ross Wolfe scored nearly half of Nevada's points in the contest as he put up 30 points in a 60-52 victory for the Tigers for their fourth victory of the year. Sophomore Joseph Ferry joined Wolfe in double figures that night with 19 of his own. Collin Garvin and Logan Porta led the offense for the Cardinals as they finished the night with 22 and 11 points, respectively.
In stark contrast to those performances, Wolfe and Ferry combined for just 11 points in Monday's defeat while Porta led all scorers with 24. Sophomore Aaron Hunt joined Porta in double figures on the night as well, finishing the contest with 13 of his own.
The Tigers had one of their better overall shooting performances of the season in the first meeting of the two squads as they went 20-for-55 from the field and 13-for-18 from the free-throw line. Monday's game couldn't have been more opposite of that performance as the Tigers converted on just 20.6 percent of their field goals (13-for-63) and made just four of 12 free throws for 33 percent.
The Cardinals didn't shoot the ball well from the field either as they converted on just 15 of 46 field goals, but more than made up for those struggles at the charity stripe as they shot 19-for-24.
The game looked as though it may turn out to be very similar to the first meeting between the two teams as neither side was able to gain much of an advantage throughout the opening period. After five lead changes, Clinton was finally able to get the better of the exchange, taking an 11-8 lead into the second quarter.
That was the last time the Cardinals relinquished the lead in the opening half as the game continued to be an up-and-down battle in which neither side could gain the upper hand for any length of time. After seeing Nevada equal their efforts point for point in the second quarter, the Cardinals took a slim 22-19 lead into the locker room at halftime.
The Cardinals shot the ball well in the opening half as they went 42 percent from the field (9-for-21) while the Tigers struggled their way to a 7-for-29 showing.
That all changed as the two teams emerged from the locker room, however, and the Tigers tied the game early in the second quarter before taking their first lead of the second half. The Tigers ultimately outscored Clinton 10-5 in the third quarter and took a 29-27 lead into the game's final period.
And then the bottom fell out.
The Cardinals went on a tear from both the field and the stripe in the final period while Nevada began to struggle even more, seemingly unable to hit anything. The Cardinals did most of the damage from the free-throw line as they converted on 16 of 18 free throws in the final 8 minutes to open up the game and eventually take the victory by a final score of 51-36.
With that loss, the Tigers finished the season with an overall record of 9-15 while the Cardinals will now move on to face top-seeded Harrisonville in the tournament semifinals on Thursday at 6 p.m.