Looking to move forward in the postseason after winning a district championship, the Whitfield Warriors have Park Hills Central Rebels in their path.
The 21-8 Rebels, a team from southeastern Missouri, will face Whitfield [19-9] in a sectional game at 6 p.m. Wednesday [March 1] at Jefferson College. The winner will play the winner of the game between Saxony Lutheran and Charleston at 1 p.m. Saturday in the Farmington Civic Center.
The game is a rematch from last year. Whitfield won that encounter 63-48 en route to reaching the Class 3 Final Four.
Whitfield coach Mike Potsou said his club is facing a talented team.
“They have been playing their best basketball as of late and they have four legitimate 3 point scoring threats,” Potsou said. “It should be a good matchup.”
The way forward to the quarterfinals, Potsou said, is simple.
“We need to remain focused and play our best basketball,” Potsou said.
It’s a game Potsou said he is excited about.
“It is always nice to play in these types of games to see how your team can perform,” Potsou said. “We have played a tough schedule to position ourselves in this situation. Our guys should feel confident in their abilities.”
Whitfield has won nine of its last 11 games. Potsou likes the way the Warriors have been playing.
“Our team has begun to gel at the right time,” Potsou said. “In our last home game versus Ladue on Senior Night, the willingness of our players to support and play hard for one another was obvious to all in attendance.”
Whitfield scored an 81-68 victory in its last game before Class 4 district play began at Valley Park.
The Warriors cruised in their first two game. Whitfield posted a 75-34 win over Bayless and then defeated Principia 62-23.
His club showed him they were ready to play despite being heavily favored to win the games.
“They showed a willingness to focus and play with energy as a collective group.” Potsou said.
Whitfield met a good Hancock team in the district title game.
“We have not played Hancock in a while, but they had a terrific year,” Potsou said.
His pregame talk dealt with making some minor adjustments to playing Hancock, Potsou said.
“Nothing out of the norm, we just revised our game plan and asked them to play their best,” Potsou said. “I was happy how we played against them in the first half.”
Whitfield scored a 76-47 victory to earn second consecutive district championship. It’s also the Warriors’ third title in the last four years.
Potsou was impressed by how his club played.
“We are playing our best basketball together at the right time of the year,” Potsou said. “It is always nice to see your team perform at a high level during the playoffs while also having fun while they play. It is a credit to their focus and hard work all season while also playing hard for one another.”
Junior Torrence Watson led the way for Whitfield with 44 points. It was a performance that topped the normal for Watson, who averages 27.1 points a game.
“Torrence was impressive. He is one of the few players I have seen in a long time that has the ability to score at all three levels with consistency without forcing bad shots,” Potsou said. “I am happy to see him have the type of success he has had this year because he has really worked hard to improve in all areas of his game.”
Earlier this year, Watson scored 45 points in a game. He has four games scoring more than 40 points this season.
Potsou noted he likes seeing Watson perform. He expected to be knocked over at times by Watson’s play.
“It doesn’t surprise me because he is so talented but there are times when he just makes you smile and say ‘wow, that was pretty good.'” Potsou said.
Watson was not a one-man band in the win. Junior guard Cyrus Alexander added 14 points an 8 rebounds.
Potsou liked what Alexander contributed.
“He has really improved this year from last,” Potsou said. “He struggled a bit at the beginning of the year, but to his credit, he remained focused, is coachable and is playing outstanding right now.
“Defensively, he causes a lot of problems for the opposition because he can guard the one through five positions and has tremendous instincts.”
The boys know what they want to do this season. The district celebration was not overdone, Potsou said.
“They were happy and are now looking forward to the next matchup,” Potsou said.
The program has been strong with three district championships in the last four years. Potsou is proud of what has been accomplished.
“We have been fortunate to have so many good players and people in our program,” Potsou said. “We continue to focus on what we can control and giving our best effort daily.”