For more than three and a half quarters Tuesday, Dec. 3, Humansville kept Dadeville in its sights.
The Tigers, competing in their home tournament, held the Bearcats to a single-digit advantage for most of Tuesday’s contest, even taking a slim lead at several points, before falling 67-59 in a flurry of scoring through game’s the final few minutes.
Humansville owned the backboard most of the night, with Clarence Foley and Ian Harjo combining for 18 rebounds.
“I thought that we did a great job rebounding the ball on both ends of the court, and I thought we did a good job in transition when we got the opportunity to get out and run,” Humansville coach Gerald Knight said.
The Tigers, however, struggled to protect the ball in their own hands, surrendering several turnovers at crucial points in the game.
“Overall, I thought we played well,” Knight said. “We had a couple of crucial turnovers late in the game. Some things we can work on are ball security and better intensity on the defensive end.”
Both were focuses for the team during the offseason, Knight said.
Humansville trailed 22-21 after the first quarter, but later in the contest surged to a 43-42 lead on a basket from Raymond Foley.
After falling behind 48-43 on a pair of turnovers, the Tigers got it in gear.
With five minutes left in the game and the two teams battling back and forth, Tucker Ahlers sunk a pair of free throws to get Humansville within one point of a tie at 54-53. Ahlers finished the game with 7 points, four rebounds and three assists.
As his team pressed, Kooper Bays rose above the scrum under the basket to grab the ball and put it in. Humansville took a 55-54 lead as the clock continued to count down.
Bays led the team with 14 points. The sophomore claimed nine rebounds.
Raymond Foley finished with 13 points.
“We also got in some foul trouble early in the game, but I thought we did a great job of managing that and getting to halftime only down 7 points,” Knight said. “We made a great run to start the third quarter, and it was just a good ballgame.”
Looking ahead, Knight told the BH-FP the team hopes to build on the upward momentum it started last year.
The 2018-19 Tigers finished the season 3-21 with wins over Niangua, Hermitage and Northeast Vernon County. Humansville fell to Dadeville last year by a 20-point margin.
“We got better as the season went along,” Knight said. “I got to play a bunch of underclassmen that got valuable minutes that will help us out this year.”
As the season progresses, Knight said he plans to look to Raymond and Clarence Foley for support. Raymond Foley, a senior, saw significant playing time last year.
Meanwhile, Knight said junior Clarence Foley is an athletic playmaker.
“(He) has really adapted to my system and is a kid that can defend all positions and will also provide a spark on offense,” he said.
Ahlers, whose free throws helped keep the Tigers in contention Tuesday, will also play a crucial role this year, Knight said.
Sophomore Tyler Ball is a natural scorer, Knight said.
“(He) is learning how to play great defense,” he said.
Humansville faced Halfway in the tournament Friday, Dec. 6, after the Cardinals fell 59-50 to Everton Tuesday. The score wasn’t available by press time Friday.
“Our team goal is to keep getting better every day and compete every night,” Knight said.