The last person sitting in the bleachers behind the Hickman Kewpies boys basketball bench Saturday night wasn’t a fan, or a statistician.
It was Kewpies senior forward, Byron Bundy. He was sitting alone with his hands covering the disappointed face, upset about his team’s 71-65 loss against the Ozark Tigers.
The Tigers inside game was too much to handle from the start. Almost every possession, the Tigers lobbed the ball down low to either Tyler Oakley, who is 6 feet, 8 inches tall, or Josh Singh, who is 6 feet 10.
Their size overwhelmed the Kewpies, especially the inside game of Oakley, who finished the game with 25 points, 22 of which were in the paint. Bundy, who had six points in the first half, said that the long arms of Oakley were too much to handle.
“He could just catch, turn around and shoot,” Bundy said. “There wasn’t much we could do about that.”
Kewpies coach, Kenny Ash, said the Tigers were a tough team for them to handle, especially trying to contain Oakley inside the paint.
“We were really concerned about him getting the ball,” Ash said. “Sometimes we’re outsized and that causes us some problems. But we have to make up with the hustle and sometimes that’s not there either.”
In addition to the lack of hustle, the Kewpies had a hard time getting the ball inside, which forced them to swing the ball around the 3-point line for most of the game. Ash said, ”We knew they were going to go zone, so we tried to push the ball and attack them, but we were reluctant in doing that.”
The Kewpies outside shooting was one of few things which kept them in the game. They led 34-33 at halftime. At that time, they felt like they were in control of the game. But the lead slipped away.
Kewpies senior forward, Logan Harris, was aware of the Tigers’ size last year, but was surprised with the outcome.
“I think we played good the first half, but the second half, we just kind of let up,” Harris said. “We’re more of a first-half team. We came into the game expecting to win this.”
Oakley said the team emphasized getting the ball to him while posting up, but came out the first half not ready to play. “We came out shaky at first. We gave up way too many points in the first half,” Oakley said.
But the Tigers made up for it and outscored the Kewpies 23-14 down the stretch to seal the victory.
Hickman fell to 11-11 on the season and the Tigers improved to 14-6. The Kewpies next game is at 6 p.m. on Wednesday at Jefferson City Helias.