David Adam

Beyond the Boxscore: Clark County boys not focused on perfect record

Palmyra's Amy Bryan and Clark County's Abby Brown attempt to rebound the ball during the Tony Lenzini Tournament in Palmyra, Mo., on Wednesday, Jan. 17, 2018. | H-W Photo/Jake Shane
Jake Shane1|
By Herald-Whig
Posted: Jan. 18, 2018 3:10 am Updated: Jan. 18, 2018 3:16 am

PALMYRA, Mo. -- That zero at the end of its record is not discussed by the Clark County boys basketball team.

At least that's what they're saying.

"Just one game at a time," senior Zeb Riney said after Wednesday night's 59-55 victory over Canton in the semifinals of the Tony Lenzini Tournament. "We don't care about the record. We just want to be our best at the end of the year."

Do students in the halls or people in the community talk about it?

"I don't know. You'd have to ask them," Riney said.

"We just go out there and play every game like we know how," senior Chandler Bevans said.

Indians coach Adam Rung says his team's demeanor rarely changes, regardless of opponent or situation.

"We don't talk about (the undefeated record)," he said. "It doesn't bother me, and the kids, I don't hear them talk about it a lot. It's a real even keel group. If we're down 6 or 8 points, you can't tell we're down.

"(The players) may talk among themselves (about the record), but it's nothing that we've addressed."

Relying on his friends

A game in which Chandler Bevans scored just two baskets likely would have been a loss in seasons past.

Bevans was held scoreless in the first half of Wednesday's game, and he made just two of 11 shots and finished with eight points. However, Rung says this year's team is different.

Cole Kirchner made six 3-pointers and finished with 21 points, and Brandon Kracht had 13 points.

"Cole's been great the last couple of weeks, and he was big tonight," Rung said. "Brandon hits a couple of big shots. We've got other guys who can hurt you when you take away Chandler and Zeb."

"They had a guy on me everywhere I was," Bevans said. "But I didn't force anything. I've got other guys who can shoot the ball."

Bevans still made a difference. He collected 10 rebounds, and he helped keep Canton's Lance Logsdon in check. Logsdon had games of 34 and 24 points last week, but he was limited to nine points, with Bevans assigned to guard him for much of the game.

"He was really big on the (defensive) end," Rung said. "For Chandler to forget about his offensive struggles and go guard was really big for us."

McKenzie making strides

Canton missed a golden opportunity to give Clark County its first loss, but three-plus solid quarters of basketball bodes well for the Tigers as the preseason nears. Canton should be the top seed for the District 6 tournament that it also will be the host, and none of the teams in District 5 (the sectional opponent) have a winning record.

Logsdon, Koy Smith and LaVion Wilson all are veterans and top scoring threats, but junior Ben McKenzie is turning into an additional scoring threat for the Tigers. He had 11 points against Clark County and 13 against Van-Far on Monday.

"The better he gets, the better we're going to be," Tigers coach Andy Anderson said. "He's really improving. We've been talking about having three or four guys scoring in double figures."

Learning from a loss

The Palmyra girls suffered possibly their worst loss of the season last Friday, falling behind 30-9 at halftime and losing 55-22 to Centralia.

Panthers coach Chris Parsons said it might be a turning moment for the season.

"When we got out butts kicked by Centralia, we realized we better put up or shut up and start playing as a team," he said. "I know it's hasn't even been a week, but they've done that. It doesn't take much sometimes to turn things around. This is a talented group."

Sophomore Megan Stone, who had 27 points in Wednesday's 64-57 upset victory over Clark County, said the team has responded well to the loss to Centralia.

"Everybody has counted us out, and that made us work even harder," she said. "Tonight we had nothing to lose, and we gave everything we had."

Parsons said he knew there would be bumps in the road for a team that is starting five sophomores.

"I hope the girls are seeing what they can accomplish," he said. "I knew there were going to be growing pains, but I didn't know there was going to be as many as we've had.

"Tonight is a huge confidence booster. I told our girls we had to do everything right, because Clark is the best team in our area. We did everything right as far as boxing out and knocking down shots when we had to.

"Maybe you're starting to see a team come together."

Picking up the pieces

Wednesday's loss ruined a perfect season for the Clark County girls, but Indians coach John Weaver sees the opportunity for his team to learn from the game.

"There's a lot of life lessons there," he said. "A lot of things in their lives are going to hurt worse than this loss. It's a growing experience. We haven't been down in the fourth quarter, and we haven't had to battle like that. There's tools to used to make you better.

"I don't believe in that phrase, 'Losing makes you better," but now that it's happened, you take the positives away and try to learn from it."