By BILL PETERSON
As the high school basketball season progresses, the San Marcos boys basketball team continues searching for that edge to deliver consistent performances.
Last Friday night, for example, the Rattlers came from behind for a 50-47 win at home against Elgin. This past Tuesday night, though, the Rattlers went to Hays with a dead performance, including seven-of-22 free throw shooting, for a 39-38 loss.
“It was like a mortuary at Hays,” said San Marcos coach Rob Shivers, describing his team’s energy.
But the Rattlers were back on top of their game Friday night at the Snake Pit, crushing Lockhart, 73-36, in a game that was never close. The Rattlers jumped to a 22-7 lead at the end of one quarter and kept adding to the margin, improving to 14-8 overall and 2-1 in the district.
Senior Lee Bryant triggered the Rattlers’ early attack, scoring 10 of his game-high 15 points in the first quarter. D.J. Gardner matched Bryant with 15 points, while Aaron Canady added 14 points.
Shivers noted after the game that his team responded well to a flat performance at Hays. The problem, he said, is that while his team responds well to its own flat performances, it hasn’t embraced the mentality beneath avoiding those flat performances in the first place.
“The yin and the yang with this team is that we’re doing this roller coaster deal, and we can’t do that in district games,” Shivers said.
Shivers agreed that a very interesting part of his team’s problem is the lay of the schedule, though he made sure to qualify that it can’t stand as an excuse. During the district season, the Rattlers are playing all their home games on Friday nights and all their road games on Tuesday nights.
For reasons that aren’t mysterious, high school basketball teams are bound to be sharper on Friday nights after they’ve been in the swing of competitive basketball for the entire week and the school day tends to be more relaxed.
On Tuesday nights, the players are in school, some might be thinking about tests the next day and the preceding weekend has broken up the flow of practice. Combine that with going on the road and the stage is set for the worst possible performances.
While acknowledging that he wouldn’t mind playing a couple road games on Fridays and trading them for home games on Tuesdays, Shivers also said his team’s inconsistency isn’t necessarily indexed to the calendar. During the non-district portion of the schedule, San Marcos played twice each against three different teams – Cibolo Steele, New Braunfels Canyon and Seguin. Against each of those opponents, the Rattlers let the first game slip away late, then won the rematch by double digits.
Towards capturing a consistent level of intensity, Shivers said someone within the team will have to deliver the message to take on that tough task on the road every Tuesday night and be ready to play at a high level. The team is still searching for that presence.
“You hope it’s one of your top guys,” Shivers said. “You hope it’s Cam (Cameron Austin). You hope it’s Lee (Bryant). I’ve been doing this for 15 years, and the best teams always have that guy.”
Short of that guy’s emergence, the Rattlers appear likely to keep re-learning that lesson over and over, paying for the lesson with mid-week losses. Tuesday night, for example, the Rattlers simply couldn’t make it work offensively at Hays. Austin scored 19 points in that game. The entire rest of the team also scored 19.
And when Austin tried to finish it off, since no one else on the team was scoring, the Rattlers paid for it. With a 38-37 lead in the final minute, Austin drove the lane, only for Hays center Vince Sorrells to stand in the way. The officials called charging on Austin, giving Hays the ball. Then, Sorrells scored the winning basket with six seconds left, taking a dish from high-scoring Hays guard Ed Franco after the defense collapsed.
Friday night’s game quickly established no chance for such late drama. The Rattlers smothered Lockhart on defense, dropping the Lions to 1-13 overall and 0-3 in the district. Shivers said he was delighted with the defensive performance after setting out specific defensive tasks for his players. As a result of the defensive performances, the offensive end also went smoothly for the Rattlers.
“The great thing tonight is that you got a visual image that when you play like that, the game is fun,” Shivers said. “You’ve got to be doing things on both ends. I don’t want to say we executed well offensively, but we moved the ball well.”
Tuesday night, the Rattlers go on the road again, playing at Lehman. If they don’t use the occasion to climb back onto the roller coaster, perhaps the Rattlers can begin a steady climb in the standings.Email | Print