The Plains basketball team had more on its mind than just winning and advancing to divisional when they played their arch rival Hot Springs team in the Western Class-C Challenge Game Monday night at the Ronan High School Events Center.
The Horsemen were trying to traverse last season’s divisional loss at the hands of the Savage Heat.
“After we knocked them out of divisional last year, they returned the favor,” Hot Springs Coach Ricky Depoe said. “It has been a long battle with this group and it was just one of those things you know we are 20 miles apart. Plains has blown us out quite a few times. It still feels like one or two ball games but they took care of us this year because they had the talent.”
The Horsemen had double-up on the Savage Heat, taking a commanding 32-16 halftime advantage, but one aspect that kept Hot Springs in the game was their free throw shooting. The Horseman found themselves in early foul trouble, committing more than 10 fouls in the first half. They were able to reduce it to four total in the second half to secure the victory.
Depoe credited the Plains defensive effort as the Horsemen were able to successfully shut down the Heat’s biggest component of its offense: Trevor Paro.
“You have to give credit where it’s due and with their plan they had against us, they really slowed us down,” Depoe said. “(Trevor) is 75 percent of our scoring. When you stop one kid you pretty much got it.”
Depoe said he felt like his team was “trying too hard” to win a game he claimed they wanted “badly.”
“I have a feeling our boys just wanted to win that game so much and they were just trying too hard,” Depoe declared. “Nothing we tried seemed to fall and it just wasn’t working for us. It was a tough game for us.”
In the first half, Depoe said he felt like his strategy against the Horseman was “effective” but they just couldn’t generate enough offensive production to justify the means.
“We were trying to penetrate and we got to Ryan Ovitt and Alec Cole,” Depoe said. “I thought then if we were able to challenge them then maybe we could get them into more foul trouble. It was just one of those things that we should have done. We needed to get some points going and slowly Plains started pulling away from us throughout the game.”
The Savage Heat was led by Paro, who scored 19, Pedro Gaurdemann finished with nine, and Blaine Carr had six. Other contributors included Tyler Knudson with four, and Brandon Knudson, Tyler Carr and Addison Mueller scored two points each.
The Horsemen were led by Ryan Ovitt, who finished with 19, Aaron Vonheeder had 18, Kyle Weeks finished with nine, and Alec Cole had five. Other contributors include Sam Rehbein, who finished with four and Jay Vonheeder had two.
With the loss, Depoe looks at next season as a rebuilding year he said.
“We are inexperienced,” Depoe said. “I am going to have eleven kids on the the team for varsity and JV. I am going to be losing six of them next year. That is one of the things with these kids. I would say there are three starters and there isn’t a lot of experience with them but we had a good run in Divisionals. We lost four of my starters last year and we didn’t get much playing time. We should be young next year.”