Piedmont played in its first tournament championship game under second-year head coach Troy Lallemand last Saturday in the Bethany Classic against Casady.That’s the good news.
The bad news is that the game didn’t go as the Wildcats would’ve liked.
Lallemand cautioned all week that top-seeded Casady was solid, despite getting little notoriety in the city area because of its private school standing. The Cyclones proved the coach correct, beating Piedmont by 13, 67-54, in the finals.
The loss in itself didn’t frustrate Lallemand, the way it happened, however, did. Piedmont trailed by as many as 20 and made uncharacteristic mistakes on both ends of the floor to fall to 3-7 on the season.
“If we had lost the game and played to the best of our abilities, I wouldn’t have been disappointed,” he said. “I’m disappointed because we had some really bad mental lapses that shouldn’t happen. That said, they are extremely good.”
Casady point guard Omar Boone was dynamic for the Cyclones, drawing high praise from Lallemand.
“He doesn’t get a lot of hype because he’s at Casady, but he’s one of the best point guards I’ve seen in the state the last two or three years,” Lallemand said. “He’s so hard to keep out of the paint.”
Still, Piedmont got a taste of playing in a game with a championship atmosphere. Something no one on the Wildcats bench had done before.
“What’s great about it is, you have that experience,” Lallemand said. “As a coach, you’re kind of like act like you’ve been there before, but we hadn’t. So we needed to experience that.”
Lallemand joked it was the first time his team hadn’t played in an 11:30 a.m. consolation game on Saturday in a tournament setting.
“We’ve only played for seventh place since I’ve been here,” he said. “I told them after the game, it was a good tournament, just not a good night against Casady.”
Piedmont dominated Crooked Oak and edged Star Spencer to reach the title game. Sharpshooter Brant Ranney returned to hit 5 of 11 3-pointers in the tournament. The wins and Ranney’s return were a shot in the arm for a PHS squad that entered the holiday break with little momentum. The ‘Cats were 1-6 and losers of four straight. Now, they have momentum.
“We’re kind of rejuvenated. Having Brant back helped,” Lallemand said. “So we’ll see. This week will be tough.”
Piedmont plays at 5A No. 20 Guthrie Friday after a loss at Western Heights Tuesday.
“Guthrie is playing really well,” he said. “I don’t think people realize how good they are. We’ll see how we respond.”
Piedmont plays in the Newcastle Tournament Jan. 21-23.