After a lengthy playoff hiatus, the Callisburg Wildcats finally got their feet wet again when they took on Dallas Gateway on Monday, Feb. 22.
Callisburg dominated the first half and rolled to an 84-53 victory in the Class 3A bi-district round.
With the majority of the team lacking playoff experience, head coach Shad Reed said he was pleased with how his team played in the first playoff game.
“I felt like our kids came to school focused and had a purpose,” Reed said. “We went over there and did a business trip and executed like we wanted to. We played enough defense to get by. I was worried because a lot of the kids didn’t have playoff experience and also because we hadn’t played a game in 13 days.” Reed said the team talks all the time about not putting too on themselves and that they prepare the same for every game.
Reed said the team knows what is at stake, but the coaches try to calm its nerves to get it to play to its potential.
The Gators’ guard-heavy lineup had the potential to break out, but Reed said the Wildcats did a good job putting the clamps on them for the most part.
“They didn’t quit,” Reed said of the Gators. “They were every bit as advertised from the 3-point line. They hit 12 3s on us throughout the game. I felt like we did a good job of not letting one player get hot. Out of their four guards, each of them had three apiece and in our scouting report, they could go for six or seven. We got them down in the second quarter and went on a 20-0 run.”
Callisburg led 40-15 at halftime and Reed told his team to brace for a better effort from the Gators in the second half.
“I told them that two things are going to happen – they’re going to come back out and fight or not,” Reed said. “We can’t let off the gas and they cut the lead from 25 to 17 after some turnovers, but we pushed it back up to 20. They never really could close the gap on us. We did a good job stopping their runs.”
The Gators pressed much of the game and didn’t allow the Wildcats to enter into their usual offensive, half-court sets.
Much of the damage offensively for Callisburg was done in transition. Reed said his team finished well around the rim as well as playing fast, but not too fast.
Callisburg was led by 36 points from Landon Condiff while Jessie Klein added 15 points and Ian Green had nine points.
“Landon did a good job trying to figure out how they are trying to defend him, but he found the open man,” Reed said. “He got the first bucket of the game out of a press break and then he opened up in the second quarter. He had 21 in the second half and he did a good job of feeling them out and positioning his game with how they were going to play him. He also did a good job rebounding.
“Jessie was really effective in the first half attacking the basket. He had eight or nine of his 15 in the second quarter in transition and attacking the rim. I was proud of the way he stepped up offensively.”
The Wildcats, who moved to 27-0 with the win, will travel to Prosper on Wednesday, Feb. 24, to face Rains in the area round at 7:30 p.m.
Reed said Rains is a really good team.
“They finished third in their district, but they’ve got a really skilled guard that is a similar build as Landon,” Reed said. “Their point guard is pretty good and handles the ball well. They’ve got kids around them that are scrapy. The play hard and crash the glass. They haven’t had a playoff win in several years, so they’re buying in and hungry. They’re definitely a tough matchup going into the second round.”
If Callisburg wins Wednesday, they’ll likely play Friday, Feb. 25. Reed said playing so many games in such a short time span is necessary, but he has confidence his team is in good enough shape to make it through the tough stretch.
“As long as you get a day in between to recover, it’s fine,” Reed said. “You don’t want to overdo practices. I don’t like playing three games in a week, but it’s kind of cool doing it the way the colleges do it. It’s the playoffs. Everybody has to adjust. At this time of the year, you have to be really flexible and have the team in good enough shape to be ready to go.”