Wednesday, February 29, 2012
Horizon Hawks have the chance to redeem themselves Friday, drawing a first-round matchup with Triad, the Klamath Falls team that beat them at the state Class 1A tournament last year.
"There's a little revenge factor," coach Darrin Lingel said. "The kids are excited, but they have to go out and play well without getting overly excited. The teams that do well at state are the ones who deal well with the pressure and just go out and play."
If the Hawks can get past Triad (3:15 p.m., Baker High School), another likely opponent will be Country Christian, who Horizon beat by 24, on the road, earlier this year.
Lingel said that on the other side of the bracket are the two tournament favorites, McKenzie and Sherman. Horizon defeated Sherman at district after losing to them twice in the regular season, and Lingel wouldn't mind a rematch.
Lingel said Triad has three sophomore and junior guards who are "really strong driving to the basket," and a couple of good outside shooters.
"We're going to have to make sure we do a proper closeout. If we do that and deal with the pressure, and not get tunnel vision and keep our focus down court, we can be very successful with Triad."
"Press," Lingel said when asked what the team would focus on to prepare for state.
"Triad puts a lot of pressure, a lot of half-court, some full, and we're going to have to work at breaking that press."
Senior guard Max Totaro is optimistic about the Hawks' chances at state.
"I think if we play with energy and passion, one game at a time but with the right matchups and the right balance of things and the ball bouncing our away a bit, we can make a run at things," he said.
"We like tournaments," Totaro said. "It's been our thing all year. It's what we like; the tournament atmosphere is great. For us it's like coming home. We were one step away last year, and I think we'll be fine."
Teammate Jake Wells, a 6-7 junior, said, "State is where it's at; it's what we've worked for, committed ourselves to. It's been our goal to get there all year; it's been our commitment and our goal to get there.
"We just need to come out with the same intensity as we did in districts, and in the first-quarter explode, and continue that throughout the entire game," Wells said. "Make sure we rebound well and stay super-physical."
Lingel said the team's greater success on the road has been a puzzler for him this season, but one he is willing to work with.
"It's been like that the whole year, and it's kind of weird," he said. "They played really well off home court. I don't know what it is; something that puts pressure on these kids and they get tight at home.
"When you come together (on the road) you don't have distractions. I think that's key," Lingel said. "On the road you are more of a unit. You stay together, play together, eat together, you do everything together. 'It's just us.' They really get focused. That's what I saw at district; they got really focused on the job and how they were going to do it."