Basketball competes in Huhtamaki Hardwood Classic

Ella Fixsen, Staff Reporter

De Soto High School is hosting the fourth annual Huhtamaki Hardwood Classic this week, which allows both girls’ and boys’ basketball teams to play against some of the best basketball teams in the area. The girls’ team, specifically, is viewing this tournament as a strong push into the start of their season.

DHS has hosted the Huhtamaki Hardwood Classic since 2015. Since its creation, the competition between many local high school level basketball teams has become more and more intense, growing from four teams to eight over the course of its existence.

“The Huhtamaki tournament has grown into a really tough, really good tournament,” said head girls’ basketball coach Ryan Robie. “It’s pretty much just six days straight of basketball and having the opportunity to watch some of the other schools from around the area showcase their talent.”

Senior Linnea Searls, who has competed in the Huhtamaki Hardwood Classic for three years, feels that this tournament gives her and her team an opportunity to face new and unfamiliar competitors.

“During the Huhtamaki tournament, we get a chance to play teams that we normally wouldn’t play during the regular season,” Searls said.

Robie agrees, feeling that the opposing teams will bring advanced basketball skills to DHS, while also giving the girls an idea of what’s to come for the rest of their season.

“We’re about to play some of the best teams that we’ll play all year in the next six days. It’s really tough competition,” Robie said. “It’s primarily 6A competition from the Sunflower League and from around the area, and so it’ll be a good test for us early on in the season. We’ll kind of get a gauge of where we are.”

Although their opponents may be tough to face, the DHS team could have a slight edge because they are playing on their own courts.

“Being able to play in your own gym is obviously an advantage,” Robie said. “It’s where we practice and it’s where we’re comfortable, and hopefully, it encourages some of our fans to come out and watch us. It takes away a little bit of travel for them, as well.”

“[Playing at DHS] gives us home court advantage and it’s convenient. We don’t have to go far,” Searls said.

Though Robie and his team are vying for a tournament win, players and coaches agreed that they mainly hope to gain experience, develop their skills and become a better team this week.

“I want to work on minimizing our fouls and turnovers and communicating,” Searls said.

“We go into [the tournament] wanting to win it, but I think at the end of the day, the goal is that we have to continue to get better, each and every day, each and every game,” Robie said. “We know it’s a rollercoaster. There’s going to be some ups and some downs, but we’re continuing to get better so that, by the time March hits, we’re playing our best basketball and we’re ready to make a run.”