Despite finishing the season with a four-game losing streak, the Boonville Pirates basketball team still inched closer to the .500 mark for the season while finishing 12-13 overall and 6-6 in the North Central Missouri Conference.
While the 6-6 mark in the NCMC was good enough for third place behind Mexico and Moberly, head coach Scott Floyd said his team was 1-2 shots or 1-2 possessions away from having a winning season.
“We did increase our win total technically from last year,” Floyd said. “We went from 10 the first year to 11 last year due to the forfeit and this year we were 12-13 so I see improvement and success in that regard. It was nice to bounce back and have a good conference season. We were 6-6 which was good enough for third place. Your goal is to get to the top two which is what we want to do. We were disappointed in the fact that we did not get to the .500 mark or better. That was disappointing, especially for the seniors because they have worked so hard for the success of the program and to just kind of turn the corner. It was a good year but disappointing in the fact that we didn’t get above .500.”
The Pirates were also around the .500 mark before Christmas at 6-6. However, in the month of January, Boonville finished 4-3 but also won five out of six games in the latter part of January and early part of February to go 12-9. However over the final-four games of the season, the Pirates hit their second skid by losing all four games to finish one game under .500.
Floyd said the part of the schedule where the Pirates won 5 of 6 games was probably the highlight of the season.
“That was important because it showed we got better throughout the year,” Floyd said. “I think another positive was finishing 6-6 in the conference, and then lastly I think the play of Jay (Barnhart) and Damario (Walker) was consistent and very good.”
As far as the low points of the season, Floyd said it wasn’t necessarily low points but there were three games in particular that would have put the team over the .500 mark for the season. He said one of them was the Linn game.
“We had a 12-13 point lead in the second half that dwindled away,” Floyd said. “They took us to overtime and won. Another ballgame that would have been nice to win was the Southern Boone game in the California Tournament. We lost by one and had two shots at the basket and that was disappointing. The last game was the Marshall game. We put a lot of emphasis on the team that this is a game that they can make their mark and get above the .500 mark in a long time. We had it but just let it slip away.”
While sweeping three teams in the conference this season (Fulton, Hannibal and Kirksville), the Pirates also split games with Marshall. Mexico and Moberly won both home and away against Boonville.
Floyd said the Mexico Bulldogs, who fell over the weekend in the quarterfinals of the state tournament in Class 4, was clearly the best team and Moberly was the second best team on paper.
“I felt like there was a lot of parity from the No. 2 team down to the seventh team,” Floyd said. “We came in third which I was proud of. We swept three different teams and were close to getting Marshall but things didn’t go our way in that game. Really the conference was top heavy. Next year I would anticipate even more parity amongst all the teams. I think Mexico will come down a little bit. Moberly is probably going to be the team to beat because they return three starters.”
The Pirates will also have three players returning next season who have started at one time or another in Tyler Peterson, Tavious Brazil and Gauge Sharp. Although Sharp missed the final month of the season due to an ankle injury, Peterson will be back for his final season while Brazil returns for his second season. Sophomore JT Washington also picked up some valuable minutes off the bench, as did DeAundre Lewis, who was regulated to the JV team because of transfer issues.
Nonetheless, Floyd said this year’s team excelled on the defensive end of the floor.
“I thought we were pretty good at the beginning of the year but as we went on they got a lot better, especially in man defense and that’s just because they worked at it,” Floyd said. “We worked at it more from Christmas on and the kids committed to it and got better at it.”
The Pirates were too bad when it came to shooting the ball, either. While hitting on 514 of 1,212 shots from the field for 42 percent, Boonville also finished the season with 1,286 points for an average of 51.4 ppg.
Floyd said even though the team finished the season with over 1,200 points, they had trouble scoring at times.
“With the exception of Jay and Damario we didn’t have consistent scoring and the fact that we weren’t a good perimeter shooting team I think hurt us quite a bit,” Floyd said. “Those two guys that I mentioned were very consistent. It’s going to be hard to lose the four seniors, though, because they started out with me. I really wanted for them to have success this year.  They were a pleasure to coach.”
As always, Floyd said the goal of the team is to finish well in the conference and win a district title. He said obviously they haven’t done that yet.
“We are getting better in conference,” Floyd said. “District-wise we still have some work to do quite honestly.”
As for the 2013-14 season, Floyd said the fact that Boonville had a lot of young guys with experience is only going to help. He said experience is huge.
“I think we are going to have better shooters,” stated Floyd. “We lacked perimeter shooting this year so that was not really a strong point for us. I think we could also be good defensively with our length and height. I think they have the potential to do that but then again conference is going to be tough. Our non-conference schedule is pretty good so it’s hard to say. But I am very happy with where we are at in the program.”