CONWAY — Coming off an appearance in the Missouri Class 2 state championship game a year ago, the Crane Pirates are adjusting to life without several key seniors from that team, and life with a new head coach.
But before anyone reads too much into a season-opening loss on Tuesday at Conway, consider the Pirates were 11-10 late last year ago. They finished the regular season by winning four straight, then won three in district play and three more in the playoffs before falling to Oran in the finals.
On Tuesday, the Bears got 20 points from senior guard Cody Delcour and 15 from senior big man Tanner Pippins and Crane struggled to get on track in a 62-47 loss.
“I thought Conway did a good job with what we were trying to do, but I thought we missed some easy shots around the basket and Delcour got hot on us,” Smith said. “We did a great job in the first half and we knew where he was, but in the second half we lost where he was and that hurt us.”
In his first year at Crane after a successful run at West Plains, Smith says there is still a period of adjustment between his system and the players.
“I thought we boxed out real well and we controlled the glass as best we could,” he said. “And there were times we ran our offense well, we just didn’t get the shots we wanted at times.
“I think we will still be pretty good at the end, we just have to learn how I want things done and it is a growing process. It is a tough road game and Conway is good, but I think the loss will help us in the long run.”
The Pirates are not only adjusting to a new coach, but with life without several talented seniors from last year’s team, including xx and big men xx among others. On Tuesday, the Pirates got
“We’re going to try to go up-and-down, play at a fast tempo and play a lot of guys and get into our bench,” Smith said. “I think we’ll have good shooters and good post action … I think we’ll be fun to watch and the more the kids get used to me and the style of play we’ll get better.”
Sophomore Tyler Campbell is a quick 5’7 guard who plays in attack mode. He is coming off a solid freshman season in which he averaged eight points per game. He finished with eight points on Tuesday.
Sophomore Jacob Woodward, a 6’4 forward, is a strong big man who is stepping into a larger role this season with the graduation of xx. Smith says he had good moments on Tuesday controlling the paint. He was one of two Crane players in double figures as he finished with 10 points.
Senior Wyatt Vaught, a 5’9 guard known for his outside shooting, showed some tenacity at the defensive end of the court on Tuesday, playing good on-ball defense for the Pirates. He made a 3 and finished with 10 points.
And senior forward Colton Elder, is a solid post player with good experience. He finished with five points.
“I thought he did a good job leading the team and being a great team leader,” Smith said. “We kind of play as well as Colton plays and when he is doing a good job and leading the team we’ll be alright.”
Smith said the Pirates will be in the gym throughout much of the Thanksgiving holiday’s gearing up for a tough upcoming schedule.
“We hope to wotk on our offense a little and be a little crisper on our defensive rotations and help the help and those type of things we want to make sure we are getting better because we are going to be in a tough Clever Tournament next week,” Smith said.