A coach with hall-of-fame credentials visited the Kickapoo boys basketball team before a tournament championship showdown with rival Glendale.
Roy Green’s pregame speech paid dividends for Kickapoo.
The Chiefs bested rival Glendale 84-68 Saturday in the final of the MBCA Hall of Fame Classic at Parkview. Junior Jared Ridder scored 28 points for Kickapoo and was named MVP of the tournament.
Ridder said Green encouraged the Kickapoo players to work together.
“He talked to us about teamwork,” Ridder said.
From 1983 to 2009, Kickapoo went 558-186 under Green’s coaching. The Chiefs won state championships in 2003 and 2006 and won the Ozark Conference 14 times. Green is enshrined in the Missouri Sports Hall of Fame and the Missouri Basketball Coaches Hall of Fame.
Coach Dick Rippee wanted to recognize Green and have him on hand to see the Chiefs play Glendale in the final.
“We’re here because of Roy Green, that’s why we came to this: to honor him. We challenged our guys to play in his honor each of the three nights,” Rippee said.
A combination of Kickapoo’s depth, pace of play and the 6-foot-7 Ridder’s presence near the basket allowed Kickapoo a 15-3 scoring run in the third quarter of Saturday’s game. Cameron Davis scored six of his 17 points during the scoring run. Davis and point guard Isaac Johnson also passed inside to Ridder against smaller Glendale defenders.
“They did an amazing job. Cameron Davis and Isaac Johnson really find me well. They just feed the post, and then when they double team I always feed them,” Ridder said.
Niekie Thomas-Fontleroy and Derrick Roberson also scored in double digits for Kickapoo, with 14 and 10 points, respectively.
Johnson drew much of the responsibility to guard Glendale sophomore Jordan Walton, who entered the game averaging 23.5 points per game behind his fellow teammate and fellow sophomore Monty Johal, who averaged 27.5 points per game.
Walton and Johal had 14 points apiece in the loss. Tristan Baker led the Falcons with 17 points.
“Tristan Baker played really well. They’re going to be a different team when we play them in February,” Rippee said.
Glendale coach Brian McTague said his players were disappointed, but gained experience from playing in a high stakes game early in the season.
“It’s a rivalry game, but on top of that it was a championship game. Our kids wanted to win bad, and we just didn’t play well enough,” McTague said. “None of these kids have played in a championship game at the varsity level before, so hopefully we can take the positives from it but also learn from the negatives.”
McTague said his team needs to learn to adjust to playing in tournament finals and could use the lesson Kickapoo received from Green on teamwork.
“When we play together, we’re pretty good. I felt at times tonight, we really tried to do things by ourselves instead of as a group, and you can’t do that against a team like Kickapoo,” McTague said.
Kickapoo now holds a 49-46 advantage in the all-time boys basketball series between the two Springfield schools.
MBCA Hall of Fame Classic boys basketball championship final
Glendale—Tristan Baker 17, Monty Johal 14, Jordan Walton 14, Zach Helm 8, Spencer Wester 7, Garrett Freeman 6, Will Sachs 2
Kickapoo—Jared Ridder 28, Cameron Davis 17, Niekie Thomas-Fontleroy 14, Derrick Roberson 10, Isaac Johnson 9, Kyle Giefer 2, Isaac Blakeslee 2, Michael Fowler 2