Playing without the services of senior three-guard Deangelo Hall, Bartlett’s boys’ basketball team couldn’t keep up and dropped their tournament opener to Cordova 60-55 Friday night.
Playing the Wolves on their home court was too much of an obstacle for the short-handed Panthers to overcome. Hall had averaged nearly 15 points per game against the Shelby County rivals. His absence, coupled with the physical nature of the tournament opener, was too much for Coach Anthony Smith’s boys to overcome.
“We played hard but we missed a lot of free throws,” Smith said of his team, winners of four straight late in the season.
“It was physical – real physical, and we didn’t take advantage of the opportunities we had.”
Cordova jumped to an early eight-point cushion and Bartlett never saw the lead.
“It was pretty even after the first,” Smith said. “We had a chance late. We got a steal but the ball bounced off the official. We could have been within one but instead, they got the ball back, hit a three and it was a five-point lead.”
With the senior Hall out and starters Eric McGill and Nathan Hoover having a difficult night from the field, Bartlett couldn’t create enough offense to come back.
Eric Waddell, playing in a Panther uniform for the last time, lit up the board with 20 points but Aaron Bell was the only other player in double figures for the typically balanced Bartlett boys.
Bell did have 13 on the night and Desmond Howard added nine. Hoover hit for seven while Michael Manning and Demarious Cason had three each.
“At the end of the day we saw improvement,” Smith said of his 9-16 Panthers. “We’ll get them in the weight room, get them in camps and we’ll go from there. We’re heading in the right direction,” Smith said. “The efforts there, we just need to get bigger and stronger and more experienced.”