Although Hickman coach Jim Sutherland jokes about his team’s lack of height, he says that isn’t the Kewpies’ main problem on the court.
“Losing our composure at the end really cost us,” Sutherland said. “…We just panicked.”
Hickman, however, did rebound the ball well Thursday night in a 53-51 loss to visiting Rock Bridge.
Taylor Florence, a 5-foot-9 junior guard, had five rebounds against a Rock Bridge squad that features Brett Gifford, a 6-9 junior forward, and Erik Darkow, a 6-6 sophomore forward.
The Kewpies also shot well, especially Kyle Smith, a senior forward who had 21 points. Hickman led until the final 10 seconds, but a mental error dashed their hopes of defeating the Bruins.
“We were going to take the last shot,” Sutherland said. “We were trying to take care of the ball and take the shot at the right time. We just panicked. One of our players panicked and coughed it up and that was it.”
Going into the game , Hickman players thought they would be up to the mental challenge.
“Yeah, our coach tried to tell us it was just another game,” Smith said. “But he knows it’s Hickman and Rock Bridge, and it’s going to be an intense game. We know all those guys. We’ve played against them all our lives. It’s going to be intense.”
Sutherland, though, said he thought that some of his players did not show the mental toughness he wanted.
“We have some kids that didn’t show up until the fourth quarter, and other kids that just didn’t show up,” Sutherland said.
Sutherland said his team didn’t execute their offense properly Smith had the hot hand, but the Kewpies didn’t get him the ball.
“We broke down on our offensive sets,” Sutherland said. “We didn’t run them properly. We always have somebody ad-lib out of them and so the right guy never got the ball.”
Sutherland said the loss resembled many of last year’s defeats . The Kewpies would keep the game close, but throw it away at the end, often because of mental errors.
“We had seven games like that last year that we lost,” Sutherland said.
Sutherland said he hoped the Kewpies would correct these problems this year, but to do so, the more experienced players need better performances.
Sutherland said he did not know if losing to Rock Bridge would motivate the team to improve its teamwork and mental focus.
“You have to ask them,” Sutherland said. “It depends on how bad it hurts to them. If it hurts bad enough, they might do something about it. I don’t know where their thoughts or where their heads are.”