A young inexperienced Winfield Warrior squad has faced two early-season tests and came up short both games. In their season opener, they lost 67-62 to Battle High out of Columbia on the road. Then, they lost 77-52 to University City in the first round of the Tip Off Classic in Winfield. In that game, senior David Bauer scored 26 points including his 1,000th point in his career. He also scored 28 points in the game with Battle. Igli Valcani finished with 11 points in that opener.
The Warriors, trailing 33-23 at the half, rallied in the second half to remain close.
“I thought we played alright for the first game of the year, said Coach Seth McDowell. “We definitely have things we need to improve on and I believe we will. Columbia Battle is a very athletic team and they used that to their advantage to force 20 turnovers. Igli (Valcani) had a pretty good game for us in double figures scoring and several key rebounds.”
In the game with the University City Lions, the undersized Warrior squad went toe-to-toe with the Lions for nearly three minutes before losing Bauer.
“We lost David with about three minutes to go in the third due to him picking up his fourth foul and then receiving a technical foul which resulted in his fifth foul of the game. We were leading by three at the time.”
Trailing by one at the half, the Lions held a 29-13 edge in scoring in the third period and 21-13 in the final period in the win.
“Playing teams more athletic than we are is something we will have to get used to doing this season especially with the conference we play in,” said McDowell. “That’s not a knock on our team, it’s just the reality of it. However, our kids were executing our game plan fairly well for two and half quarters. We got into some foul trouble, a little tired and lost sight of what we needed to do. When you play a team as good and athletic as University City you have to focus on what you need to do the entire game or it can get ugly in a hurry. We had some young kids that got thrown into the fire tonight when we got in foul trouble and they will have to continue to improve, which I believe they will, because they will continue to see the court. We didn’t take care of the ball tonight and gave them too many second chance points. Those two factors lead to layups and easy shots for the other team.”
In addition to Bauer’s scoring, Damian Cagle finished with 12 points.
The loss of Bauer came at a critical point in the game.
“David is a very special player and means a lot to our team, said McDowell. “He really understands the game and how to play. He is what I like to call a very ‘crafty’ player. He isn’t overly athletic, but he uses his knowledge of the game to get into the paint to score or read his defender to spot up for a three. What really impresses me is on the defensive end of the court. He reads the opponents and comes up with steals or deflections all game long. What I think is more impressive than possibly his 1,000th point is that he has 215 steals through his first three years here. I was skeptical about the number when I arrived here this year, but after watching him play and coaching him I believe every bit of it. He is definitely the leader for our team. When we need a calming force in a tight game or have to have a bucket he immediately takes charge. He isn’t necessarily a vocal leader but he definitely leads by example. He is a great example that all young basketball players can look up to. He plays the game the right way and that is a sigh of relief in today’s game.”