There was plenty of energy in the gym Thursday night at Macks Creek.
The Pirates celebrated their homecoming festivities amongst a packed house, but one thing they would not be able to celebrate were the final scores of the basketball games as Wheatland brought plenty of energy of their own defeating the girls 61-58 and the boys 63 to 46.
The girls got off to a slow start as the Mules jumped out to a 19-10 lead after the first quarter and a 33-22 lead at the half. However, the Pirates would certainly make their opponent feel the pressure the rest of the night and had their opportunities to win it down the stretch.
“We were a lot better that second half so we did a much better job of being able to get out and contest shots and did a little better job rebounding too,” Macks Creek coach Craig Parrack noted. “It still felt like we gave up too many second shots and did not quite finish defensive possessions by them (Wheatland) getting the rebound after we played pretty good defense and they put up a tough shot. We just did not go ahead and grab the ball.
“But then we kind of fought from behind the whole game so sometimes it seems like you are a little bit tired too. That contributes to it, but we had it right there in the second half to come back and win it ins site of not a great first half,” he added.
Indeed, the opportunities to win it presented itself on several different occasions. After the Pirates started off the third quarter on an 18 to 8 run to recapture the lead, both sides went into the final quarter tied up at 43. Macks Creek found itself with a 1-point lead twice over the final eight minutes, but Wheatland found a way to respond when it needed to.
The Pirates brought the ball down with 9.3 seconds left trailing by two points, but a jump ball near the baseline gave the possession back to the Mules who proceeded to hit a free throw. A half court heave from Macks Creek junior Shelby Willis as time expired fell just short of the goal and the result was in the books.
“We can play and we now that as we have gone through the season,” Parack pointed out. “Overall I’m pleased with their effort and we just have to be a little better. When it comes down to it, it is one play. One play at any point in the game that we just did not make, but in our defense we kept making plays. We never give up and do not give up on each other so that is the mark of a team that can win.”
Willis paced the Pirates with 28 points and seven rebounds while fellow junior Kali Eidson added 13 points and eight rebounds, sophomore Lexi Mayer chipped in eight points and collected 10 rebounds and freshman Jesse Willis contributed six points to go with seven assists and sevens steals.
Wheatland is a team the Pirates may face again in district play and Parrack is looking forward to seeing how the two sides stack up should they meet again.
“We know in our district that they (Wheatland) are the team to beat as we look at it and we know that we can match up and play them because we did that tonight in spite of not starting off the way we wanted to,” the coach said. “We were still able to match up and play them tough through the remainder of the contest so that tells us what we can do. We know that we missed an opportunity and we should have won that game is what we feel like.”
Macks Creek (13-5) will be back on the court Tuesday night with a road trip to Hermitage and tip-off is scheduled for 6:30 p.m.
The Macks Creek boys also did not get off to the best of starts Thursday night, but were not quite able to recover like the girls did. The Mules built up an 18-8 lead after the first quarter and that lead grew to 35-16 by halftime and would not be relinquished the rest of the way.
“We did a really poor job in the first and third quarter coming out with energy,” Macks Creek coach Matthew McCarthy noted. “Especially when we are not hitting shots we just get down on ourselves. The last three games or so we have been going into halftime almost down 20 every time so we are really just digging ourselves a deep hole and trying to see how deep we can dig it until we can find a way to where we can actually get out of it.”
McCarthy said the solution is to just keep playing and worry about making the next play instead of what has already happened.
“I’m always telling us that we need energy. We had so many fans here tonight because it is homecoming and they are all dead because we are dead and had zero energy so it is going to correlate,” he said. “We just have to keep playing. I always tell them to move on to the next play. Even if you make a mistake on the offensive end, move on on the defensive end, get ready and figure that out. I just think we are a little complacent right now.”
The Pirates saw production from a number of different contributors throughout the contest. Sophomore Zane Whitworth lead the offensive attack with 11 points while senior Cameron Charlton and junior Braden Bowman finished with nine and both junior Gage Mashburn and senior Austin Zollman scored seven respectively.
The Pirates will look to right the ship against Hermitage Tuesday night and McCarthy is hoping to see his club go out and play like he knows they are capable of doing.
“The next opponent is Hermitage and they were here tonight watching so they know what to expect,” he said. “They are good and I think they just lost their third game so they have been successful all year and it will be a tough game no matter what. If we play like the way we can play who knows what will happen at the end of the game. But if we are playing like we are right now, it is going to be a tough night for us.”
Macks Creek (11-10) will take on Hermitage following the girls’ game.