By Sara Smith
Wednesday, January 17th
vs. 0-10 Knox County Eagles
Time to Get Back in Basketball Shape
Winter weather delayed the start of the North Shelby Tournament, causing the tournament coordinators to condense the schedule and play some of the games at the South Shelby school. It also caused many of the teams to miss an entire week of courttime. In the case of the Knox County Eagles, when they met the Rams on the North Shelby court, they had not played a game since December 18, 2023.
The Eagles were the #8 seed, and as such they were slated to play the #1 seed, your very own 9-2 Schuyler County Rams. It is reasonable to assume that, given the teams’ long stretch of inactivity, the game might be a little sloppy, and in some ways it was. Overall, however, it was complete domination by the Rams.
The Rams jumped out to an early lead, scoring 17 points in the first and second quarters. The Eagles were unable to match the total of just one of the Rams’ quarters, scoring eight points in each quarter for the first half of play. The total at halftime was 34-16 a commanding 18-point lead for the Rams. The second half started with a 22-point third quarter for the Rams, while the Eagles put up seven points in that same quarter. When the third quarter ended the Rams had extended their lead to 33 points, with a score of 56-23. The Rams slowed it down in the fourth quarter and eased up on the press, giving the Eagles the opportunity to gain some ground and decrease the margin to 27 points. The final score was 62-35.
The tale of the tape reveals the results of the Rams’ relentless press, and the Knox County Eagles inability to deal with it. The Eagles had 27 turnovers during the game, the Rams were able to score 23 points from those turnovers. Brody Weaver led the team in scoring with 19 points. As one of the point players for press, Brody Weaver was able to take advantage of his speed to get three steals, he also had three rebounds, two assists, and two deflections. Kale Windy had 17 points, two rebounds, two assists, two deflections, he led the team in steals with four, and he had one block. Gage Brownell scored eight points, he had six rebounds, and he led the team in assists and deflections, with four and six respectively. Cohan Meade came off the bench to once again add points to the scoreboard, he had seven points, four rebounds, one deflections, and one steal. Mason Windy contributed six points, one rebound, one assist, two deflections, and two steals. Connor Smith added five points to the Rams’ total along with three rebounds, three assists, two steals, and one block. Elliott Sevits led the team in rebounds with seven, he also had two assists, two deflections, and one steal. Caden Veatch, Damian Kelsall, and Jaxson Kaden spent some time on the court and contributed to the team win as well. Veatch had three rebounds, and Kelsall had one deflection and two steals.
Thursday, January 18th
vs. 5-8 Northeast (Cairo) Bearcats
Time to Change the Tide
The Northeast Bearcats were the #4 seed in the tournament, they defeated the #5 Scotland County Tigers to advance in the winners bracket. In round two of tournament play they had to face the #1 Schuyler Rams in the South Shelby Middle School Gym.
The Rams and the Bearcats are not conference or district rivals, but they have played each other several times over the years, often during tournaments. Since 2010 these teams have met 11 times, with the Bearcats coming out the victor in 10 of those contests. The last time the Rams defeated the Bearcats was at the La Plata Invitational in 2010. It was long past time for the Rams to reverse the tide of losses.
Once again the Rams would look to use their speed and agility to press the Bearcats. It was not as effective as it had been against the Eagles in the previous game, but it did the job. The Bearcats had 18 turnovers, while the Rams had only eight. The Rams were able to score 14 points from the Bearcats’ turnovers, while they only had five points from the Rams’ turnovers. The Rams outscored the Bearcats in the paint by 12 points.
Further, the Rams outscored the Bearcats in each of the four quarters. Their most impressive defensive quarter was the second, when the Rams only allowed the Bearcats to score two points. At the end of the game, with a final score of 53-26, the Rams had another convincing win as they advanced to the Championship game.
Kale Windy and Gage Brownell both had 16 points apiece. Brownell led the Rams in rebounds with an astounding 14 while Kale Windy led the team in assists and deflections, with four assists, and five deflections. He also had three steals. Brody Weaver scored 11 points, he also had one assist, two deflections, two steals, and two blocks. Cohan Meade came in to score five points, get three rebounds, three deflections, and he tied Kale Windy’s steal total with three. Connor Smith provided three points, one rebound, one assist, one steal, and one block. Mason Windy rounded out the scoring with two points, while he also had four rebounds, three assists, and two deflections. Elliott Sevits had two rebounds, one deflection, and one steal.
Round Three- Championship
Saturday, January 20th
vs. 8-7 South Shelby Cardinals
Time to Get the Monkey Off Our Back
The #2 seed, the South Shelby Cardinals defeated the #7 La Plata Bulldogs, and the #3 Marion County Mustangs to advance to the championship game versus the #1 Schuyler County Rams. South Shelby is a Class 3 school, while Schuyler is a Class 2 school, as such, the teams are not frequent opponents, but they are not completely unfamiliar with each other either. This contest would mark the 13th game between these two teams, with South Shelby holding the most wins with eight.
These teams met in the North Shelby Tournament Championship last year as well, in that match the Cardinal were able to edge out the Rams in a low-scoring game by an 8-point margin, 29-37. Last season the Rams were also in the Tri-Rivers Classic championship and in the district championship game, earlier this season they appeared in the Tri-Rivers Classic championship again. The Rams lost all those games, coming in second. They were narrow, single-digit losses, but they were losses just the same. It was time for the Rams to get the championship monkey off of their backs. Time to prove to themselves that they could emerge victorious.
The Cardinals and Rams were evenly matched, as far as speed and defensive ability goes. Both teams were slow to find their rhythm with a low-scoring first quarter. The Cardinals narrowly edged out the Rams by two points, 6-8. In the second quarter both teams found their feet as they each scored 13 points. The Cardinals took their two-point lead into halftime with a score of 19-21. The Cardinals added another two points to their lead in the third quarter, outscoring the Rams 14-16. The score at the end of the third quarter was 33-37.
The Cardinals held the lead for a vast majority of the game. The Rams were able to go ahead by one point with 2:28 remaining in the second quarter thanks to an “and-one” (or as the late Donnie Middleton would say “three points the old-fashioned way”) from Kale Windy, but were only able to hold that lead for one possession. The Rams would tie it again in the second at 19, but the Cardinals took the lead again on their very next possession. In the third quarter, the Rams were able to gain a 1-point advantage, but again…were unable to hold onto that lead.
The fourth quarter was the Rams’ last stand, it was do or die (figuratively, of course). The Rams were down by four, with only eight minutes left to play. Certainly not an unmanageable margin. However, it wasn’t long before the Cardinals extended their lead to seven, the widest point spread of the game. The Rams did not give up, they continued to play, giving maximum effort. After the game, Assistant Coach Brad Moncrief would reflect upon the “hard-fought” game, and how the team showed “determination.”
With 1:31 left in the game Kale Windy put the Rams up by one point with a 3-pointer from the top of the key. This time the Rams would hold onto, and expand their lead. They would emerge victorious with a final score of 51-46.
When it came to points on the board, Kale Windy put the team on his back this game, scoring a monstrous 26 points. However, when it comes to a back-and-forth battle like this one, every point, every rebound, every assist, every steal, every block, every deflection… everything matters.
On the offensive side of the ball, Kalle led the team with his 26 points, four offensive rebounds, and tied with Mason Windy with four assists. Gage Brownell had nine points and one offensive rebound. Brody Weaver scored six points, plus one offensive rebound, and two assists. Cohan Meade provided five points, and one offensive rebound. Mason Windy scored a clutch four points (all in the fourth quarter) and had two offensive rebounds to help seal the win for the Rams. Connor Smith had one point, one offensive rebound, and one assist. Elliott Sevits contributed to the team win with two strong offensive rebounds.
Defense was another matter. The Rams pride themselves on a relentless press and tough defense. However, the Cardinals were no slouch when it came to defense either. Coach Prewitt noted that they are a “bigger school, they were much more physical and played man-to-man defense really well. Definitely one of the tougher defenses we have seen.” They had more bodies on the bench, so it was easier to keep fresh legs on the floor, and they didn’t have to worry so much about foul trouble for individual players.
On the defensive side of the ball Smith led the charge with five defensive rebounds, and four commanding blocks. He also had two deflections and one steal. Kale Windy had four defensive rebounds, four deflections, and two steals. Brownell had two defensive rebounds, one deflection, and one steal. Meade also had two defensive rebounds. Sevits had one defensive rebound. Mason Windy led the team with four steals. Brody Weaver had four deflections and one steal.
How Does It Feel To Be A Champion?
What does this championship mean to the Rams? To put it in perspective, up to this point, the Rams had won 11 games with an average margin of 30 points. However, the two Rams’ losses had been by a total of seven points. What does it mean to the team to come out on top of such a tightly contested game? In response, Head Coach Chris Prewitt said, “The grit and toughness these guys showed throughout the week was tremendous. Three games in four days with no practice, and still able to get it done. I always thought we were a flashy type of team, that we couldn’t win ugly, but they proved me wrong this week and I’m so proud of them. Excited to see the things we can accomplish later on this season.”
Kale Windy, senior offensive leader, responded, “It feels amazing to finally achieve a first place finish after years of falling just short. It was a great team effort to take over the final two minutes to pull out the win.”
Senior defensive leader Connor Smith echoed that sentiment with his response, “Glad we could finally pull away with a championship after underperforming in all the previous championships, great teamwork, and an even better team victory.”
Coach Prewitt summed it up by adding “It feels like all the hard work the past couple of months is starting to pay off. In the past, we have been able to get to these games but never win them. We proved we belong in these types of games and can win them.” That you did Coach Prewitt, that you did. Congratulations to you and the Rams!
Weather permitting, the upcoming schedule is:
January 23 @ Scotland County
January 25 @ North Shelby (rescheduled from Jan. 9)
January 26 @ Knox County
January 29 – February 3 @ La Plata Invitational
February 3 vs. New Franklin @ Mid Missouri Invitational (Harrisburg) 5:30 pm
February 6 @ Harrisburg
February 7 vs. Fayette (reschedule from Jan. 8)- Senior Night
February 9 vs. Salisbury- Courtwarming
February 13 @ Westran
February 16 @ Atlanta (reschedule from Jan. 12)
Unless otherwise stated, start time is approximately 7:30 pm, after the girls game at 6:00 pm.