PAXTON, Neb. For the second straight year, the Paxton Tigers are going to the state tournament. The team hopes its experience last year will benefit them on their trip this year.
"Last year there were definitely a lot of nerves going down there. This year it should be different. We've got that experience under our belt, so hopefully the nerves are eased a little bit when we get down there," said senior guard Jordan Callihan.
"There's a lot of people down there and it gets pretty loud, and the nerves can run pretty high. So, being able to calm everybody down will be a great help," said senior guard Kaden Schow.
The Tigers lost only one game this season, against Hershey, and head coach Jody Rhodes said after that game, the team was able to look back and see what mistakes they made, so they could fix those problems.
"I might be a little overboard on this, but I find a lot of negatives in the things I see on film, the things I see throughout the game, and those are the things we work on,” Rhodes said. “There hasn't been a game where I felt that we've been flawless and have nothing to work on. There's always something to work on."
Even the players were able to acknowledge what needed fixing after the loss.
"People always say you learn a lot more from a loss than a win, but, for the pressure side of things I really don't think it took any off us. We still want to go out every game and win. So, it's just like any other game, just go out there play hard, have fun, hopefully win it"
The Tigers play Wauneta-Palisade in the first round of the tournament on Thursday at 3:45 p.m. at Lincoln East High School. The Tigers and Broncos have faced each other twice this season, and the Tigers won both matchups, but that does not mean the Tigers players are looking past the opening game.
"We just gotta go down there and try to play some good defense and hopefully score some baskets," Callihan said.
"We're just looking at winning one game, and if we win that one, look at winning another game," Rhodes said.
Rhodes expects there to be nerves for his players, but having the experience from the state tournament last year, he believes they will be prepared.
"Anytime you get your foot in the door the year before it's gotta help you and it's gotta help your confidence. There should always be butterflies, and nerves,” Rhodes said. “If the game means anything to you, which it does to these guys, you're gonna have that competitive nature where you're going to have those anxious butterflies and hopefully they'll be ready to go."