HARTVILLE, Mo. — If winning breeds success then the Hartville Eagles are in store for more state title celebrations.
“Maybe in the past people might not of known where Hartville is,” head coach Brett Reed joked. “They definitely know who we are now, and there is a bullseye. We have to come out and we have to be ready to play every single night and fight for our tradition.”
It’s the tradition of linking the 2016 state title to the school’s second this past spring. And in between the Eagles are a perennial power in the Summit Conference.
“There’s a lot of pressure to (repeat), but we have to stay poised and go to battle every single night,” senior Ryce Piper said.
“(We get) everyone’s best game every night,” senior Eli Cook adds, “coach has preached it to us ever since we won it last year, and we’re seeing it now.”
But Hartville is giving it right back. Only one Eagle graduated from last year’s state championship. This year sees nine seniors suiting up and taking down the competition on the court.
“They’ve been doing this for awhile now and they’re fun to watch and fun to be around,” coach Reed said.
“We’ve worked with each other since we were four years old,” Piper said.
The scoring starts with Piper who is coming off an All-State honor, averaging 17-points per game as a junior.
“I feel good; couldn’t feel better because it’s my senior year.”
And with a deep stable of weapons, Eli Cook is stepping up his game coming off an all-tournament team accolade at Clever.
“He is every coaches dream. Diving on loose balls, taking charge. Stats don’t show up in the stat sheet.”
The Eagles hope to keep piling up the stats and have another photo shoot like the one of the conclusion of the 87th Clever Invitational in March, at JQH Arena, for a second-straight, state title.
“I just hope we get to keep playing,” coach Reed said.