The Purdy Eagles defended their home court on Tuesday night. Ozark 7 foe Verona came into town with thoughts of an upset, but they couldn’t overcome a speedy Eagles team as Purdy hung on to win 64-58.
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Verona hit a buzzer-beating three to end the first quarter and pulled to within 18-15, swinging the momentum in their favor. But Purdy asserted themselves in the second quarter, scoring the first nine points of the frame. Purdy enjoyed a 34-26 lead at the half and a 51-41 lead after the third quarter. The fourth quarter, though, would be a different story.
“You know what you’re going to get out of Coach Steward’s crew,” said Purdy head coach Tommy Eagan. “He’s going to get every little bit out of his kids. They hung around and they hit a lot of big shots in the fourth quarter, just any time I felt like we might have had a chance to put them away, they hit a bunch of big threes. Anytime you beat Verona, it’s a good win.”
Verona outscored Purdy 17-13 in the fourth quarter, including an 11-3 run to pull within five points with under a minute to play. With the absence of a shot clock, Purdy was able to use their ball-handling in the half court to eat time off the game clock, forcing Verona to foul. Purdy made just enough free throws to close out the game, resulting in a 64-58 victory.
“Purdy does a great job,” said Verona coach Brad Steward. “Their speed, their quickness at times, they beat us down the court. But they do a great job, they play with a lot of energy… I told [my team] we could have ended up getting beat by a pretty good number. We fought for four quarters. Tonight the better team won, that’s the way it usually goes. They were the better team. But I thought it was a good high school basketball game.”
Sophomore Tyler Keeler led all scorers with 17 points for the Eagles, but Coach Eagen said it was the seniors who carried the team to victory. Luis Cruz and Sydney Birge both delivered 16 points. Guards Jonatan Salazar and Raul Garcia had just three points each, but they played the role of floor general running the offense and setting up their teammates.
“I’ve been with those [seniors] since seventh grade,” said Eagan, “and we’ve talked at length about just how much we’ve enjoyed each other. And I just think the world, of all our kids obviously, but our seniors, I’ve got a special bond with them just because I’ve been coaching them since seventh grade. We’ve just talked about how we don’t have many chances to do this, and leave it out on the floor every night, and lets just get better every game and hopefully we’re peaking when it matters most here in a couple weeks.”
Purdy improves to 13-7 this season. With this win, they avenge two straight losses to Verona the past two years. Verona now sits at 8-13 on the season.
The Purdy Lady Eagles also beat the Verona Lady Wildcats before the boys’ game 71-58, giving Purdy the sweep over Verona in the double header.
Purdy – 18 – 16 – 17 – 13 – 64
Verona – 15 – 11 – 15 – 17 – 58
Purdy – Tyler Keeler 17, Luis Cruz 16, Sydney Birge 16, Hunter Cook 7, Raul Garcia 3, Jonatan Salazar 3, Justin LaNore 2
Verona – Kolton Pinkly 14, Spencer Shue 13, Ismael Soto 12, Eddie Gutierrez 12, Jose Charquene 4, Caleb Hillhouse 3