Defending champs hope to make a run at Lady Tiger Classic
By Jason Peake
NEVADA-- It's safe to say that Brent Bartlett always looks forward to the Nevada Lady Tiger Classic.
This year is no different. The 13th annual girls basketball tournament begins Monday at NHS and will continue all week.
"We love this tournament," Bartlett said. "Playing three extra games at home is pretty special for our team. It's just a great tournament. And it's always a well-run and well-organized tournament. (Kevin) McKinley does a great job with that."
A year ago, Nevada won the tourney title, its fifth in the event's history. And as this year's tourney arrives, the hosts would love to repeat. But the girls need to turn things around. The Tigers are now on a seven-game losing streak. Bartlett said he's focused on his team's overall improvement at this point.
"Right now, we're doing everything we can to improve our team," he said. "We just want to keep trying to improve."
That doesn't mean Bartlett and his Tigers don't have the goal of a repeat in mind.
It won't be easy, though.
For starters, the field is loaded with solid teams.
"All six teams are quality teams," Bartlett noted.
Carthage, a team Nevada just played on Friday night, is the favorite to win the LTC.
Carthage (11-5) has an experienced and solid team. The Tigers won the Carl Junction Tournament earlier this season.
Liberal, Raymore-Peculiar, Joplin, and Carl Junction will also be competitive.
For Nevada, a key to success will be generating more points.
"We have to create some points with our defense to help our offense," Bartlett noted. "And we need to do the little things better, like blocking out and free throw shooting."
Next, Bartlett said senior Tiffani Long's status for the tourney is doubtful.
Long is a two-time all-tourney selection and has been out of the lineup due to a foot injury. She was scoring 12 points per game before the injury.
"There's still a possibility, though," he said. "It depends on what the doctor says next week."
Bartlett has been mixing up his starting lineup in recent weeks, with junior post player Tori Dahmer the only constant.
Dahmer is scoring right at 10 points a game and freshman Mikayla Bartlett is averaging 11 points a contest.
"Effort is never a question with this team," Bartlett said. "They're putting out tremendous effort. I love their effort. So now, it's who is performing in the games. That's who will start. We can start any of the eight."
Nevada will open tourney play on Wednesday against Liberal at 7:30 p.m.
Overall, Bartlett said he and his team are looking forward to the tourney.
"It's going to be a quality tournament," he said. "The fan support is always great here. We're looking forward to it. I love this tournament."
The Lady Tiger Classic begins on Monday.
The six-team tourney features two pools. Pool A features Carthage, Raymore-Peculiar, and Joplin. Pool B features Nevada, Liberal and Carl Junction. Monday's schedule features two games. Carthage and Joplin square off at 6 p.m. with Liberal vs. Carl Junction to follow.
Wednesday's games are Ray-Pec vs. Joplin at 6 and Nevada vs. Liberal at 7:30 p.m. (Nevada won an early-season meeting).
On Thursday, Carthage plays Ray-Pec at 6:30 p.m.
Nevada takes on Carl Junction (a team Nevada has already beaten twice) at 6:30 p.m. on Friday night.
The tourney finishes up on Saturday. The fifth place game is at noon, with the third place contest scheduled for 1:30. The tourney title game is scheduled for 3 p.m.