COLUMBIA — A busy Hickman boys basketball team got exactly what it didn't need Sunday night — an energetic and talented opponent.
After victories on Thursday and Friday that gave them the championship of the Marshall tournament, the Kewpies (3-1) dropped their first contest of the season, losing 64-54 to Poplar Bluff at the Norm Stewart Classic at Columbia College.
But the Kewpies say they are not putting any blame on their schedule.
"It's hard," junior guard Marcus Whitt said. "But we don't use excuses. We need more team unity tomorrow."
Hickman travels to Blue Springs on Monday night to play its fifth game in seven days.
A sluggish Kewpies squad started off slowly Sunday but kept the contest close and trailed just 26-24 at halftime. The Mules pulled away in the fourth quarter behind 30 points from senior forward Jay Raulston.
"He's a good player," Whitt said of Raulston. "We didn't respect his game enough as a team."
senior point guard Lyle Harris led the Kewpies with 21 points.
"It's the first time we didn't have contributions off the bench," Hickman coach John Burns said. "I don't think (the bench players) came ready to play hard enough."
The Kewpies got just eight points from its reserves, six of which came on back-to-back 3-pointers from sophomore Logan Fitch in the third quarter.
Burns, coaching against former Missouri Tigers teammate Lamont Frazier, used numerous substitutions in an effort to find a winning formula. Ultimately, there was no answer for the fatigue that allowed Raulston and his teammates to get easy points close to the basket.
"We can either make an excuse and get beat again or we can mature and play through that," Burns said of Hickman's next game.