Carthage’s opponent tonight in the sectional round of the Class 5 girls basketball playoffs is no stranger to the Tigers.
The teams played just two weeks ago, but this time around Carthage is hoping for a different result as the Tigers prepare to take on Ozark at 6 p.m. tonight at Southwest Baptist University in Bolivar.
On Feb. 16 Carthage traveled to Ozark and lost 65-32 in the final game of the regular season. The message on Tuesday from head coach Jim Moore was confidence.
“No. 1, confidence,” Moore said when listing his keys to tonight’s game. “We’ve got to know if we play our best we have a chance to win. That’s No. 1.”
Moore also wants to see his team guard on every single possession.
“Every possession is key,” he said. “Everything is crucial.”
And the Tigers also need to rebound the basketball.
“I thought the other night in the championship game we rebounded really well late and that added to our success,” he said. “We can’t give them more than one opportunity. Get the rebound and get it out.”
But confidence remains the most important aspect for Carthage, and Moore said his team is approaching this game with quite a bit of it.
“Yeah, there is,” Moore said. “We played them a couple weeks ago and things didn’t really go our way. Quincy (Charleston) got hurt in the first quarter, and we turned the ball over a little bit. They got some easy opportunities and it kind of got away from us. Our mentality is positive. We know we didn’t play our best and we’re happy to get another shot.”
Carthage enters this game with a 21-7 overall record, and winners of the Class 5, District 12 tournament. The Tigers beat Springfield Central 57-25 last Wednesday, then topped Webb City 47-43 in the title game Saturday. Carthage has won 11 of 13 games after starting the year 10-5.
Ozark, meanwhile, claims a 24-4 overall record, and won District 11 despite being seeded second to Glendale. Ozark beat Nixa 54-41 in the semifinals, and topped Glendale 75-64 in the championship game Friday.
Regardless of what happens in Bolivar tonight, Carthage has relished the opportunity to keep playing.
“They’re very excited, very much so and rightfully so,” Moore said. “They’ve worked hard all year and they’re getting to reap the benefits now. I’m happy for them. I don’t think they could be any more excited.”
On offense, Moore wants the Tigers to keep playing the unselfish brand of basketball they have all season, always looking for the open teammate and the extra pass.
“We’ve got to look for our opportunities, and when we get them we’ve got to be able to convert,” he said. “We need to be a little more patient sometimes. We do want to get out and run with it and if we get opportunities, that’s great, but we can’t force it. If it’s not there, pull the thing back out, let’s be patient and get our shot. Those are some things we’ve really worked on the last few days and things I think are key for us.”
The winner will advance to play the winner of Columbia Rock Bride (22-3) and Waynesville (12-17) at noon Saturday at the Hammons Student Center in Springfield.