COLUMBIA — Having only a day to prepare a team for the most important game of the year so far might scare some coaches.
But for Hickman boys basketball coach John Burns, preparing on such short notice is not a problem.
Hickman (17-8) vs. Holt (20-7)
When: 7:30 p.m. Friday
Where: Troy Buchanan High School
“All season is about us preparing ourselves,” Burns said. “We do very little to no preparation for the other team.”
In the Class 5, District 9 Tournament, only one day separates the semifinals and finals, giving Hickman just an hour-and-a-half session to touch up any blemishes.
After beating third-seeded Troy Buchanan in the semifinals, the second-seeded Kewpies used their limited practice time to focus on a little bit of everything.
“We’re not perfect for what we do, so we’re just trying to get better,” Burns said. “If you can’t do what you’re capable of doing, it doesn’t matter what the other team does.”
But that doesn’t mean Hickman (17-8) doesn't acknowledge fourth-seed Holt (20-7) as a threat.
The Indians have won 11 straight games entering Friday’s championship game, and they just beat top-seed Rock Bridge, a team that hadn’t lost a game in the district tournament since 2005.
“That’s the scary part,” Burns said. “They’ve won 11 games in a row, and they just don’t think they’re going to lose right now.
“I mean we’re facing some winners here. If they can knock the No. 1 team out, they can knock the No. 2 team out too. Their confidence has got to be at an all time high.”
If Hickman did focus on one thing in preparation for Holt, it was slowing down the Indians' interior players. Their standout forward Dantiel Daniels lit up Rock Bridge for 28 points in the semifinals and has been dominant for Holt throughout the year, Burns said.
“It’s a battle of their inside game versus our outside game,” Burns said. “That’s what it’s going to come down to.”
Still, the main focus of the Kewpies' last practice was on making themselves better in different ways, Burns said. He even touched on their mental game, emphasizing focus and concentration.
“It’s more mental than physical at this time of the year,” Burns said. “This is not about playing physically hard. Everybody is playing physically hard, because they realize this could be the end.”
The Kewpies could win their first district championship since 2003.
“That’s what we believe we are going to do, and we’re ready to go,” Burns said.