It was a rollercoaster end of the regular season for the Muenster Hornets. They pulled off an overtime win over Lindsay to give them a chance for their eighth consecutive district championship.
However, the Hornets needed to win their final three games to do so. They dispatched Era, but were tripped up against Collinsville in a loss.
The Hornets bounced back with a win over Tioga and in the end, they found themselves in a three-way tie with Lindsay and Alvord for a share of the district crown.
All three teams drew numbers and Muenster found itself as the third seed and a matchup with Wolfe City in the Class 2A bi-district playoffs at 3:30 p.m. Saturday, Feb. 20, in Anna.
Head coach Lynn Cook said he is pleased with how the seeding came out.
“We got the worst numeric seeding, but if you look at the bracket, the third slot is the best playoff route out of our district,” Cook said. “Number one and number two play some great teams in the first two rounds and we wouldn’t see those teams until the third round. It’s weird and it’s hard to get the kids to wrap their heads around it.”
Muenster went 26-6 last season, but fell in the regional semifinal round to McLeod. If the Hornets can get past the first few rounds this year, they’ll have a chance to meet up with McLeod again.
“We’re in a new district and a new part of a bracket,” Cook said. “We don’t have the opportunity to play teams west of us until much later. You’re going to run into the highest ranked teams in our region that are in the east in McLeod and Rivercrest. Me personally and the three guys returning, we’d sure like another shot at McLeod as they knocked us off in the regional semifinal game. We’ll see if we could return the favor.”
The loss to Collinsville hurt the Hornets’ chances of winning the district again and Cook said his team had to quickly turn the page.
“We’ve had to move on and that was the message after the loss to Collinsville,” Cook said. “We had to make some adjustments and reset our mentality. The message was this was over and we had to win on Friday to have a share of the district championship. We controlled our own destiny and it didn’t go the way we wanted it to go. We’re a cat with nine lives and we keep using lives.”
Muenster’s last game of the regular season was a 63-30 win over Tioga. Cook said the offense started slow, but caught fire in the second half.
“We were kind of sluggish in the first half,” Cook said. “We played good defense, but we went in at halftime and responded with 21 points in the third quarter. We sent a message early and finished strong. I was proud of how we responded and we held them to 12 points defensively. Our offense kind of woke up and that was the difference in the game.”
Wolfe City is 13-8 on the season while the Hornets are 12-8 this year. Cook said they are a good team from top to bottom.
“I’m able to scout them through film and they’re a pretty solid team,” Cook said. “They have a pretty similar record as us and they finished second just behind Celeste. They do a lot of things well. They do a good job utilizing what they have.”
The Wolves sport a guard-heavy lineup which Cook said might force both teams into some mismatches. Cook said it could be good or bad for Muenster and he will be open to different lineups depending on how the game shakes out.
“It means we could have to pull one of our bigs off the floor to match them,” Cook said. “They only play with one big guy on the floor. It might not be to our advantage to have two posts on the floor. It’s going to be tricky. We’ll see how we’ll defend with a mismatch. My gut is to defer to our best defensive posture to match them at least to start to get a feel for their speed and their abilities in person. Film is great, but film isn’t in person.”
The 63 points the Hornets put up against Tioga in their final game were the most they scored in the past nine games. Cook said he tells them daily that they are capable of being a great defensive team that can be explosive offensively.
Cook said it’s up to Muenster to mentally meet that challenge.
“My expectation is that we compete and that we start to figure it out for lack of a better term,” Cook said. “We’ve got to gain that consistency to have any chance at sustaining a run in the playoffs. You can’t have a bad game and you can’t have a bad quarter inside of a game. With us playing 20 games now, we’ve seen everything we’re likely to face. Now we just have to make sure we’re consistent in our effort on both sides of the ball.”