SECTIONALS: Contrasting Styles in Macks Creek-Walnut Grove Match-up

Macks Creek All-Stater Cody Eidson skies for a dunk in a game earlier this season. The Pirates are looking to jumpstart a return trip to Columbia with a win over Walnut Grove in tonight's Sectional. (Photo courtesy of Macks Creek High School)

CLASS 1 BOYS STATE SECTIONAL

#6 Walnut Grove (23-5) v. Macks Creek (19-7)

March 3 / 6:00 PM

Site: Southwest Baptist University

It will be a match-up of contrasting styles when the sixth-ranked Tigers hook up with the Pirates, as Walnut Grove likes to get up and down the floor while Macks Creek is content to pound the ball down low to its All-State center. Walnut Grove enters the contest fresh off its first district championship in a decade, while the Pirates are looking to jumpstart another deep state tournament run after a visit to the Class 1 Final Four a year ago.

“We are very excited to be playing in the Sectional game,” said Walnut Grove head coach Darin Meinders. “Macks Creek is a very good team. At this point of the season, any team you play will be very talented. Our kids have worked hard to put themselves in this position, and we are excited for the opportunity.”

Walnut Grove's Dallas Hawk (R) (Photo courtesy of WGHS)

“Walnut Grove is a very solid opponent who has been playing good basketball all year,” said Macks Creek head coach Brad Briscoe. “We feel like we match up well with Walnut Grove and am looking forward to the challenge. It will be a challenge for our team and one we are looking forward to come Tuesday night.”

The Pirates are led by All-State center Cody Eidson, who is averaging 18.1 points, 10.6 rebounds and three blocks per game for the Pirates. The 6-foot-6 senior is shooting almost sixty percent (58%) from the field. In addition, the Macks Creek lineup also features another All-Stater in junior guard Matt Hicks, as well as another athletic guard in senior Tommy Willis.

“Cody is a very talented player, but he’s not the only player they have,” said Meinders. “Matt and Tommy are very good players, too. We have a lot of respect for their players, but we feel we have some pretty good players, too.”

The Tigers do have some pretty good players, led by senior Dallas Hawk, who erupted for 29 points in the Tigers’ district championship game win over Verona. The 6-foot-3 senior has scored over 1,500 points in a Tiger uniform. Junior Dallas Meinders keys the Tiger attack from the point, while sophomore Jaron Dishman and six-foot-2 freshman Logan Thomazin also make key contributions.

“Both Meinders and Hawk, along with Thomazin, are quality scorers, but their ability to space the floor and have scoring options at all five spots makes them difficult to defend,” said Briscoe. “We will look to limit the opportunities for scoring of their big three and hold them to one shot per possession. We need to contain the bounce and cover up the three point line, as well as limit the touches Hawk gets in the paint.”

“We need to rebound and play to the best of our ability,” said Coach Meinders. “Our focus is on doing things right. If you do that, then winning takes care of itself.”

An old coaching adage is that defense wins championships. It also wins Sectional games.

“I feel this game will be won on the defensive end,” said Briscoe. “They have scoring balance and can hurt you in multiple ways through post entry, dribble penetration and good perimeter shooting. I feel if we are able to set the tone on the defensive end that will feed our offensive production. I also feel a key to the game will be our ability to handle their full court pressure.”

The Walnut Grove-Macks Creek winner advances to the state quarterfinals Saturday, where #5-ranked Leeton likely awaits. First things first, though. Only one team can advance out of the Sectional, where the team that controls the tempo—and plays defense—will take a giant step toward emerging victorious. 

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