The Hazelton secondary school senior boys’ basketball team went 0-2 in a Houston play-day last Saturday, but Coach Tamara Stoney said her team is improving every game.
Defence was the main obstacle in the morning game against Houston.
“I think I was asking a bit too much of them,” Stoney said.
“We ran a different defence than we have all year this morning.”
Colton Murrel led the Hazelton Spartans with 15 points, 8 rebounds and 3 blocks, but the team ended up losing 56-36 to the hosts.
The afternoon game looked to bring more of the same for the Spartans.
Smithers jumped out to a 10-2 lead in the first quarter.
Stoney urged her team from the sidelines to remember their defensive positioning and they responded by clamping down.
The Spartans went on a 8-0 run pressuring Smithers players and stealing their errant passes.
However, Smithers scored late to take a 12-10 lead as the first quarter ended.
The Spartans increased the defensive intensity and were up 16-15 midway through the second.
Smithers took advantage of a few missed assignments by the Spartans and ended the quarter on a 6-2 run to go into halftime up 21-18.
Coach Stoney was pleased with the effort and asked for more of the same.
“Keep your feet moving on defence,” she instructed her team at the half.
“And don’t be afraid to box out.”
The beginning of the third saw both teams hit the floor with little enthusiasm and missing shots.
Eventually, Hazelton tied the game with free throws with three minutes left in the quarter.
Brendan Wilson and Ryan Wright combined for a smooth give-and-go, which Wilson finished, to put the Spartans up 25-24.
Smithers began to pull away as the Spartans’ defence became lax and Smithers continued to dominate the glass when it mattered.
Smithers finished the quarter on an 8-3 run to take a 32-27 lead heading into the final frame.
Wilson brought the Spartans as close as they would get with a three-point basket to close the gap to 38-35.
The final score was 44-37 for Smithers.
Coach Stoney said boxing out and getting her team to be more aggressive on offence will be the focus of practices.
“Sometimes they get the ball in a great position to beat their man one-on-one and they decide to pull up for a jump shot instead,” Stoney said.
The zone championships are two weeks away in Houston.