After missing all of last season due to suspension, Tait Larson was elated to be back on the court with his teammates. His elation quickly turned to points as he helped lead the Bearcats to two wins this past weekend at the East/West Classic in Buffalo.
The senior scored a team-high 26 points in a 67-64 win over Worland on Friday and followed up with 28 more on Saturday in a 70-40 win over Lovell. In the finale against Pinedale, Larson added another 21 points, but it came in losing fashion as Douglas fell 57-53.
“We struggled a little bit at times but I felt like overall it was a very successful weekend,” Larson said. “Defensively we’re all starting to realize our roles and are seeing how successful we can be when we play them.”
Kanyon Cecil finished the weekend with 22 points and Matthew Underwood chipped in with 20 points. Andres Robles added 14 rebounds. First-year head coach Chase Plumb said he was impressed with how his team played with a high pace and got up and down the court well to create easy shots.
“Worland is a team that ended up going to state last year and were ranked high during preseason, so it was a good test early on,” Plumb said. “Finding a way to win that game was a huge confidence booster for the guys and a reminder that they do belong here and can compete with anyone.”
Less than a year removed from a 7-17 season, Larson said a new coach and a new offense hasn’t phased the team.
“We respect coach Plumb so much and we’re buying in,” he said. “I think our new offense is going to be a great thing for us with our personnel. He always stresses about fast breaks and I think we did a good job of getting out and running.”
Larson couldn’t identify whether slow starts against Worland and Pinedale were due to jitters, but he recognized that the Bearcats came together each game and fought through the adversity. He also mentioned that getting out to a better start and coming out with the “fire” will be key for them moving forward.
Plumb also noted the need to get to the boards on defense and increase accuracy at the charity stripe.
“Defensively there’s moments where we need to get better and get to the glass,” he said. “Because we don’t have that much size, it’s important that we rebound better.”
As for free throws, he added: “We were 9-for-18 against Pinedale, that can’t happen.”
The run-and-gun style of offense that Douglas is hoping will lead them to greater things, served them well in Buffalo. Despite making just 3-of-10 free throws against Lovell, it was a huge reason they were able to score 26 points off turnovers in a 30-point win.
The Bearcats are back on the road this weekend when they travel to Lander for the annual Douglas/Lander Classic. They’ll face Lander and Burns to begin the weekend.
“Lander is a tough opponent, they have good size and good guard play,” Plumb said. “It’ll be another great test for us.”