The Joplin Globe, Joplin, MO

February 26, 2013

Pierce City boys in sectionals for first time

By Anvil Welch
Globe Sports Writer

— The Pierce City High School boys basketball team can make a memorable season even more meaningful by logging a sectional victory on Wednesday night.

Pierce City coach Matt Street isn’t saying it will be easy.

The Class 2 Eagles, coming off their first district championship, challenge Crane at 6 p.m. at Republic High School.

“We’ve had good teams and outstanding players,” Eagles’ coach Street said Monday. “But finally we were able to proverbially get over the hump.

“Definitely, we have our work cut out for us,” Street said. “You don’t beat Billings (2012 state champion) for a district championship without being an outstanding team. But we’ll take it.”

The Eagles’ 18-10 record includes a 79-49 loss to Crane (22-5) in the semifinals of the Pierce City Tournament on Nov. 29.

Said Crane first-year coach Dale Lamberth: “It was so early in the season (the Eagles’ second game of the campaign). Everyone was learning.

“Nobody should be looking past anyone at this point,” Lamberth said. “Different nerves will come out in this game.”

Added Street (who’s assisted by Matt Holt): “We’re an improved team. Our offense wasn’t very good at that time. We’re revamped it into a kind of motion offense.

“We realize they also have improved,” Street said. “But we have to keep doing the things that have put us in this position.

“Crane has some outstanding players,” Street said,. “They have an outstanding guard and a top post player. They do a good job of switching defenses during the game.”

Probable starters for Pierce City, according to Street, are 5-foot-7 sophomore Colton Drollinger, 5-11 sophomore Kole Kelley, 6-0 senior point Cedric O’Hara, 6-1 junior Zack Hyde and 6-4 senior Cody Fitchpatrick.

Street said that Colin Garner, 5-11 sophomore who’s returned from a broken kneecap, is the Eagles’ top reserve.

Street said that in the first meeting 5-8 sophomore Zach Chastain scored 19 points and 6-4 senior Jordan Bowling added 17 to lead the Pirates.

Hyde is averaging about 13 points, Fitchpatrick 12 and Kelley 10, Street said, while Fitchpatrick is adding some 10 rebounds. Bowling is averaging about 18 points and eight boards for Crane.

Street is in his fourth season as head coach with the Eagles after assisting a year. He prepped at Crocker and attended Central Methodist before receiving his degree from Drury.

The 6-4 Lamberth, from Putnam City (Okla.), played a season at Northern Oklahoma-Enid before finishing with three years at Missouri State. He assisted John Schaefer two years at Springfield Hillcrest before moving to Crane.

Pierce City and Diamond tied at 8-1 for the Spring River Valley Conference title this season. Crane finished 5-2 in the Southwest Central League to trail Billings and Clever.