Losing their last game of the regular season to Alvord that forced them to settle for a three-way tie for the district crown, the Lindsay Knights have a sour taste they are trying to get rid of as they transition to the playoffs.
Lindsay head coach Chris Cornelison said the Knights had to accept how the district shook out.
“We all met and kind of hashed out the options and had everything settled prior to last Friday,” Cornelison said. “We all lost three games. We split with Muenster and lost twice to Alvord. It kind of all comes out in the wash. It just shows how evenly distributed the district is. We’re happy to be co-district champs and that was one of our goals. We’re in the playoffs and anything can happen once you get in.”
The Knights will open the playoffs in a Class 2A bi-district tilt against Bland on Saturday, Feb. 20, in Celina.
Cornelison said this year’s path through the playoffs will be different than previous years.
“With our route, going east is different,” Cornelison said. “There are a few pretty quality teams. If we’re lucky to get past the first round, we’ll draw McLeod which is the No. 2 seed in Class 2A. Rivercrest and McLeod will be difficult, but if you’re going to beat then, you’re going to have to beat them sometime.”
It will be 11 days since the Knights played Alvord to close out the regular season and Cornelison said the Knights would have preferred to play a warm-up game, but they were also holding room in their schedule just in case they had to play a district tiebreaker game.
“The way we lost, maybe it’s a good thing,” Cornelison said. “It gives us a little bit of time to clear our mind. We’ve been able to get into the gym. Tuesday, we worked out and we felt like it was safe enough to bring them up. Hopefully we’ll get back in there and go over things for Bland.”
Against Alvord, Cornelison conceded the Knights’ inability to knock down outside shots is what killed them.
“Alvord shot it well enough to win and we didn’t,” Cornelison said. “When we struggle, we struggle from the perimeter. If you look back at the games we’ve lost, we haven’t been able to knock down shots and that makes it that much harder for us.”
Cornelison said the Knights have a tendency to struggle against zone defenses and that was the case against Alvord.
“We’ve struggled against zones,” Cornelison said. “It’s not that we don’t share the ball but we hang on to it too long and become stagnant. That’s been our emphasis as far as practice goes and we’ve been focusing on our zone offensive stuff.”
Defensively, Cornelison said the Knights didn’t have enough energy to start the game.
“We let a shooter get loose early in the game that set the tone for them,” Cornelison said. “I think he had three 3s in the first half and that got them going. We had senior night so we were trying to get that out of the way before the game and I don’t know if we were there. It was a struggle all night and we tried too hard once we got down. It just kind of built on it. We just made it harder on ourselves.”
The second-seeded Bland, which struggled in the back half of district, will be a challenge. However, Cornelison said he is hoping the Knights’ depth will be able to wear down Bland.
“They’ve got a big kid about 6-6 or 6-7 who is thick and has really good feet and hands,” Cornelison said. “They’re a non football school so they’re solid. They’re not really deep, but if you can keep tabs with their big kid and their point guard, then you’ll be OK. I think we’ll be able to handle their big kid. They don’t get a whole lot out of their bench. If they happen to get in foul trouble, then we can get rolling on them and use some of our depth to take advantage of that.”
Last season ended in the regional quarterfinal round at the hands of Muenster. Cornelison said he hopes his team realizes its potential.
“It’s funny, the team we could possibly face in the second round McLeod is who ended Muenster’s playoff run last year,” Cornelison said. “It’s going to be a difficult run but we match up well athletically with almost anybody. We have a chance to make it a game anytime we step out on the floor. I look forward for the opportunity to make it two or three rounds and I think we have the potential to get there.”