The Vega Longhorns went on the road to face your Clarendon Broncos. The evening produced mixed results, in fact at two totally opposite ends of the spectrum. The girls game was like a trip to the dentist with over 50 free throws and little flow in the action. The Lady Broncos got thumped, 57-44 but the score is misleading as it wasn't that close. On the other side of the coin, the boys took it to Vega from the opening whistle and won, 65-41. That game was also not as close as the score suggests.
Where do I start? As most of you know, I always find the positive in situations and never call a particular player out in print. You know who you are though....the entire team. Without looking at particulars, 99% of the time you can tell the team who wins based on three things:
1. Effort. In the first half it just wasn't there.
2. Turnovers. There were a total of 20 turnovers. At one point, the Lady Broncos had 10 points and 10 turnovers.
3. Rebounding. Sometimes hitting the boards is height driven but it's also about effort and position. Time and time again Vega dominated the boards, especially on the offensive boards resulting in many second chance opportunities and trips to the free throw line.
The second half was a better effort but it was too little, too late. The somewhat meaningless stats were Senior Jade Benson leading the Broncos with 19 points while Junior Madison Smith had 11. Nobody had more than 3 rebounds, and everyone had multiple turnovers.
In the initial couple of minutes the teams looked evenly matched and were mirror images of each other. Both teams like to come out in a full court press. Neither are particularly athletic so it's not CONSTANT pressure, it tends to be can I make the other team turn it over in the backcourt or not.
As a young coach I've had the pleasure of working with the great Nolan Richardson when he was in his hey day with the Arkansas Razorbacks, not to mention I've shared a few beverages with him in El Paso in more recent times. He'd always tell me, "Max, me and my guys lick our chops when we knew our squad was going to face another team that likes to press. It's a chance for us to go mano es mano and see who's WILL is strongest. When the smoke clears they only THINK they like to press." At the end of the day, that team was Vega.
I'm sure I'm ruffling some feathers here and maybe they'll run me out of town or Mr Jeffers may not share this on CHS Broncos because it's not "positive". But here's the deal for all the moms and dads and players that are likely hot under the collar now. It's the TRUTH from someone that's been in the game for 30 years.
After you cool down, look in the mirror. Coach Conkin's system hasn't changed. Embrace what she's instilling in you everyday. The entire roster knows the role they're expected to play. Are you working on your ball handling? Are you getting a couple hundred "makes" up in the morning? Do you take the weight room seriously? Do you give 100% during wind sprints? But most of all, did you give 100% EFFORT every single time you hit the floor regardless of the score and did you treat each possession like your life depended on it? That's non negotiable and doesn't require any talent. I refuse to play a player who does not give EFFORT. I cannot coach that.
This isn't my team to coach. I'm just an observer. The good news is that the second half had it's moments. It also has sufficient talent on the roster to land a playoff spot. There is also a talented group of freshmen waiting in the wings. If there's a consistent effort attached to this group of kids they could really overachieve and make some noise. I'll look forward to a more consistent effort next game. Who's going to get some floor burns?
As pointed out above, scores are misleading. If Coach Hudson had left in his first 6 players in the rotation this could have been a 90-30 rout. As it was the Broncos dominated from the opening whistle. That's what you're supposed to do against an opponent who's much less talented. The Broncos subbed liberally going 8-9 deep with the youngsters, Lyric Smith and Anthony Ciniceros getting much needed varsity reps.
Clarendon was buoyed by the return of Sophomore Jmaury Davis. He gives Clarendon the rim protector and board man they were sorely lacking early in the season. He set the tone early with a put back dunk and a blocked shot, finishing with 12 points, 13 rebounds and 4 blocked shots. After the first few minutes, Vega's 6'6" post man was intimidated. He wanted nothing to do with Davis and became a non factor. Davis is low maintenance and doesn't need plays run for him or the ball in his hands. His production comes from effort and energy. (At one point though Coach Hudson attempted to reward him with a designed back door lob for the slam that just missed).
Overall it was a solid team effort with balanced scoring. The football players have now shaken the rust off. Sophomore Sylvester Ballard had 11 points, Junior Jordan Herndon had 7 points/4 assists and Junior Cayden D'Costa led all scorers with 17 and 9 boards. I like his game because he doesn't have to score to make an impact. Hats off to freshman Lyric Smith who finished with 6 points and an impressive 8 boards. This team is looking good as they are nearing full strength.