The Hickman boys’ basketball team is struggling, and coach Jim Sutherland has demanded progress.
The Kewpies (7-17) have had more than a week to improve for their first-round game in the Class 5 District 10 Tournament at host Hickman. The Kewpies play the Camdenton Lakers (12-11) at 7:30 p.m.
“Rebounding is still lacking, obviously, and key possessions have been lacking as well,” Sutherland said.
No Kewpies player is taller than 6-foot-5, but the key problem has been an intangible.
“For the past two years, our teams have had one thing in common,” Sutherland said. “When the game is on the line, we have consistently not been able to produce. I call it the X-factor or the ability to get it done when it counts.
“Unfortunately, there isn’t a whole lot you can do to practice for that.”
The Kewpies have haven’t played since Feb. 12 when they lost to Lee’s Summit 62-57.
“We had a lot of work to do,” sophomore center Logan Harris said. “But we’ve had a long time to get it done.”
Although the Kewpies have been struggling, Sutherland is impressed with his team’s persistence.
“I’ve been very impressed with the character of the ball club and their desire to win,” Sutherland said.
“In light of the fact that we’re 7-17, they’ve maintained a positive outlook. They’ve been scrutinized by fans and parents, but they keep coming back. It’s a credit to their character.”
Sutherland also said he thinks his team has a reason to be optimistic.
“I’m encouraged from the standpoint of the opportunity to play at home against someone that you’ve already played before,” Sutherland said.
Hickman lost at Camdenton 55-45 on Jan. 4.
If the Kewpies win tonight, they will face a Rock Bridge team that received a first-round bye.
In the only other District 10 first-round game, Helias and Smith-Cotton at 6 p.m.