One key weakness caused the death of Greek mythology hero Achilles.
Legend holds Achilles’ mother dipped her baby’s body in the River Styx in an attempt to make him immortal, but that the part of the boy’s body she held him by, the heel, was not affected. Thus, an arrow to the heel years later in Troy led to the death of the Greek war hero.
Coaches of six Springfield high school basketball teams discussed their most notable weak spots at Monday’s Springfield Tipoff Club meeting. Each coach spoke to the crowd of fans to provide a season status update.
The 11-8 Falcons suffered a 76-71 loss to Ozark Friday night and allowed a game-winning 3-pointer in the final minute. Coach Brian McTague says poor fourth quarter defense led to Glendale’s defeat.
“We’ve just got to figure out how to get stops late, that’s kind of been our Achilles’ heel this year. When the game is on the line, our defense isn’t what it needs to be,” McTague said. “Offensively we’re in a good spot right now.”
The 15-2 Chiefs won the Sedalia Smith-Cotton Classic but suffered a loss in Nixa two nights later. Coach Dick Rippee believes a lack of preparation time plagued the Chiefs.
“The most prepared team won the game and they kicked our butts,” Rippee said. “That’s probably, in the long run, the most important game we’ll play this year. Our guys learned some things that we’re not able to do.”
The Hornets (5-8) suffered a 56-55 loss to Marshfield Jan. 20 that represents another chapter in a young team’s ongoing struggle. Coach Thomas Brock’s team led by four points with 25 seconds remaining the game, but surrendered five points and lost. Six of Hillcrest’s eight losses have come by 10 points or loss.
“We’ve got to learn how to finish and how to win, and I think part of that is a confidence issue right now. We’ve been in that situation three or four times and just haven’t come up with one,” Brock said.
Hillcrest visits Willard Tuesday night and then goes to Nixa for a three-night tournament beginning Thursday.
Coach Tony Armstrong called coaches of five prior opponents to seek their input on his team. His approach to self-scouting led to a discovery: the Irish struggle against high-pressure defense.
“They said, ‘well, your kids are really efficient in half court and stuff like that,’ they’re like, ‘when the game speeds up and when people start pressuring you full court, your kids look a little nervous,'” Armstrong said.
Catholic hosts a boys and girls basketball doubleheader against Greenwood Friday at 6 p.m.
The Bulldogs’ lack of offensive balance opened them to losses early in the season, but the scoring lines look much more even from a recent 53-48 win against Neosho.
“As a coach, you always want your scoring line to be as it was,” coach Armando Johnson said. “That’s the first time that we really had everybody distributing the basketball and sharing, and that’s something I’ve been trying to get kids to do.”
Central hosts Joplin Tuesday night at the Pit and then starts a three-game stint in a tournament in Bolivar Thursday night.
Parkview’s Achilles’ heel hasn’t been figurative, but literal injuries. Seniors Autry Acord (knee) and Connor Ratcliff (foot) have been declared out for the season. Senior Zach Cameron, a 6-foot-9 Missouri State signee, battled injuries and illness but appears entrusted to lead the 8-8 Vikings.
“Right now I’m coaching a whole new team,” coach Bill Brown said. “Zach Cameron is starting to feel a little better and getting up and down the court a little bit, and it’s also given some of our juniors more of an opportunity to play.”
Juniors Garrett Cunningham, Jordan Bollenbach, Cameron Satterfield and Bernard McCann all expect to see expanded rolls for Parkview.
The Springfield Tipoff Club meets Mondays at noon at the Springfield Elks Lodge, 2223 East Bennett. Cost to eat lunch and hear from Springfield high school boys and college basketball coaches is $10.