Perryville boys basketball coach Rick Dunn understands just how steep the uphill climb is when it comes to the Pirates’ chances in the Class 5, District 1 tournament.
So much so that he was very succinct when it comes to their first round opponent.
“Notre Dame is very talented,” he said in a very matter of fact tone.
Fourth seed Perryville (3-15) will take on top seed Notre Dame (16-5) on Tuesday, March 2 at 6 p.m. at Notre Dame High School.
Dunn did expand a little on just what his team has to do to upset the talented Bulldog squad. He believes his team as to play nearly perfect.
Notre Dame has beaten Dexter (20-4), South Iron (19-4) and Campbell (19-4) this season. They are led by post player Caleb LeGrand and shrarpshooter Hayden Jansen who had 16 and 19 points respectively against South Iron on Feb. 20.
“When you play teams as good as the ones in our district, you really have to play your best game of the season,” Dunn said. “You have to take care of the ball and shoot a high percentage and play tough defensively. You have to play better in every area of the game.”
Perryville does have the highest seed in the district tournament they have received in several years thanks to the “success factor” and the shuffling of teams from class to class which included an addition of a sixth class. Unfortunately for the Pirates that doesn’t change the difficulty of the district, which Dunn believes is one of the toughest in the area and quite possibly the state. Notre Dame is coming off a trip to the Class 4 Final Four last season. Cape Central reached the Class 4 state quarterfinals in 2019, with Sikeston winning the district before advancing to the final four in 2018 While Notre Dame is the top seed this year, the bracket is rounded out with Sikeston (10-7) and Cape Central (8-7)
“District 1 in Southeast Missouri has been really tough historically,” Dunn said. “There’s a lot of times in the past where the team that wins this district in Class 4 and now Class 5 has went on to reach the final four and in some years win the state title.”
The underdog role is a familiar one for Perryville as they have not won a district game since 2012. Dunn has not harped on that fact much this year, partly because many of the players on this year’s team have not been a part of district losses nearly 10 years in the past.
“I just try to keep them focused on the job ahead of them,” Dunn said. “That’s something we talk about in our preparation after all the regular season games are over. We might use it as a source of motivation to let the players know that they can do something that hasn’t happened in quite a while.”
Before any of that takes place Perryville is just happy to get back on the court. Thanks to an abundance of snow the campus has been closed for all activities over the past two weeks. Perryville last played on Feb. 5 against De Soto. Perryville will have three games this week, culminating with a game against Ste. Genevieve tonight.
Dunn hopes to use that stretch of contests to regain some momentum that may have been lost thanks to the two-week break.
“We are just happy to get the games in even if they are so close together and we are playing three games in three days,” Dunn said.