Grizzlies host Mega Motorsports Grizzly Classic this weekend

Freshman guard Zavien Smith-Morales passes the ball over a defender during a home game earlier this week. (Missouri State-West Plains Photo)
Freshman guard Zavien Smith-Morales passes the ball over a defender during a home game earlier this week. (Missouri State-West Plains Photo)

The Missouri State University-West Plains Grizzly Basketball team will close out its four-game home stand this weekend during the Mega Motorsports Grizzly Classic at the West Plains Civic Center.

The two-day event will get underway at 5 p.m. today when the Three Rivers College Raiders face off against Neosho County Community College in Joe Paul Evans Arena. The Grizzlies will play Cowley County Community College at 7 p.m.

Saturday's lineup has Three Rivers and Cowley County playing at 5 p.m. and the Grizzlies facing Neosho County at 7.

"We will have our hands full this weekend," Grizzly Basketball Head Coach Chris Popp said. "Cowley County is receiving votes for the top 25 and averaging 112 points a game against legitimate competition. They will make it a track meet. They're a tough team that plays very hard. It will be a matter of matching toughness and making plays against them.

"Neosho is a scrappy team. They press and really try to push the tempo. Both games will be fast paced and should be fun to watch," the coach added.

Loss to Coffeyville

The Grizzlies will go into the weekend trying to shake off a 96-66 loss to No. 19 Coffeyville Community College Wednesday evening at the civic center.

Everything that could go wrong did for the Grizzlies against the Red Ravens. They struggled on both ends of the court and went into the halftime break down 47-22. Not much changed in the second half, as the Grizzlies struggled to find their footing against one of the top teams in the nation.

"We have a lot of guys trying to do the right thing, but what we're lacking from our guys is a mindset to just flat out get it done, and there's a difference," Popp said. "We're doing too much analyzing and thinking instead of finding a way to get the job done.

"Basketball is a reactive game. You practice and create habits so you can react when the game is live. Thinking too much will get you in trouble on the basketball court. You don't have time to stop and think. It's a fast-paced game, and it has to become second nature," he added.

It doesn't help when unnecessary fouls continue to plague the players, especially those in the front court. "Once again we had our three primary bigs on the bench in foul trouble," Popp said. "Q (Quentin Jones) fouled out. He was never able to get a rhythm going because of that.

"The fouling issues are the hardest issue to address. It's never quite the same," the coach added. "Every foul comes from something different. I can't tell them to back off. We have to be more aggressive, tougher. They've got to get in front of the ball and do what they need to do to be better. They have to eliminate the cheap fouls, then they will be okay."

In addition to the fouls, sophomore guard/forward Sardaar Calhoun, who has been averaging over 20 points a game, was held scoreless against the Red Ravens. "Sardaar will look to regain his rhythm after going an abysmal three of 28 in the last two games," the coach said.

Leading scorers

The Grizzlies' leading scorer Wednesday was freshman guard Franklyn Petion, who scored 12 points in 14 minutes of play. "That was Franklyn's best offensive game," the coach said.

Petion was followed by sophomore forward Alex Peterson with 11 points and sophomore guard Taevon Horton with 10. Peterson led the team in rebounding with six grabs.

Popp also pointed to the efforts of freshman Zavien Smith-Morales, who continued to play well at the point. He netted 8 points and dished out three assists. "Zavien handled their press and continues to improve," the coach said.

For more information about the Grizzly Basketball program, visit www.msuwpgrizzlies.com or call 417-255-7991.