Waddell column: Hounds not satisfied with trip to Alamo city

By Reece Waddell | Published Friday, March 8, 2019
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As Slidell coach Casey Pierce and players Slayton Pruett, Brock Harwell and Hunter Horner made their way into the press conference in the Alamodome after Thursday’s Class A semifinal victory, none of them made much of an attempt to hide their displeasure.

The Greyhounds overcame 22 turnovers to post their first semifinal victory in 75 years, but no one on the podium was satisfied.

“We shouldn’t have won the ballgame,” Pierce said. “Our play today was not indicative of a state-caliber team. We’re fortunate to get that win.”

Call it fortune or luck, but with a championship drought that has spanned into seven decades, Slidell is not content just being at the state tournament. The Greyhounds are in San Antonio to win a title.

Slidell’s play, while sloppy and erratic at times, was ultimately enough to sneak past Oakwood 47-45.

The Greyhounds were 9-for-20 at the free-throw line and shot 18.2 percent from beyond the arc.
In a sense, Pierce is right.

On paper, Slidell might not have deserved to win the game. You will have to look beyond the stat sheet to uncover the reason the Greyhounds prevailed.

Slidell head coach Casey Pierce gives instruction during the state semifinal. (Ron Cortes/ Special Contributor)

“Throughout the course of a season you’re going to win some games that are ugly,” Pierce said. “It says a lot of about them [winning]. [They] have had to deal with, through basketball, some individual adversity.
“They knew they didn’t play very well. Because they know what I’m thinking probably before it even comes out of my mouth, the expectations are aligned.”

Two weeks ago, Slidell escaped a third straight exit in the region quarterfinal when Easton Vanover knocked down three free throws with under a second left to beat Saltillo.

Thursday, the Greyhounds’ defense held Oakwood to under 33 percent shooting to get the job done.

“How we won may not have been the best, but we won and live to fight another day,” Pruett said. “I’m glad we showed up for our city and do what they’ve been trying to do.”

In Slidell, where basketball is king, all eyes are on the five Greyhounds on the court.
Pierce, a two-time state champion as a player at neighboring Krum, knows what it takes to win. He now has Slidell one victory from its first championship since 1944.

Slidell’s Easton Vanover shoots over two Oakwood defenders. (Ron Cortes/ Special Contributor)

“After the game in the locker room we talked briefly that this game had a similar feeling to Saltillo,” Pierce said. “We won, and there’s a half of you that’s excited. But there’s another half of you that the way you won deadens some of that enjoyment and excitement. We know we can play at a higher level and by Saturday, we’re going to need to.”

The Greyhounds’ accountability, even after a victory, is impressive. Slidell’s determination to not rest on its laurels is what makes them a championship contender.

“I think we have a similar understanding of what has to be done and what the expectations are,” Pierce said. “I hope that linked mindset helps us on Saturday. We’ll prep and hope that continuity is a factor.”

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