Lions still have time to turn season around in district
By Skip Leon
There is good and bad at this point in the Teague boys basketball team’s season.
The bad is that the Lions have won just one of 19 contests to date. The good is that they have just begun their District 20-3A season and there is time for a turnaround that could lead to a postseason berth.
Teague lost its opening district game to Elkhart, 48-27, at Teague on Friday night. The Lions were off Tuesday and will travel to Buffalo this Friday for their second district contest.
“We’re 0-1 right now, but hopefully we can keep getting better and fight for a playoff spot. That’s our goal,” Coach Chris Hair said after the Elkhart game.
The team has to improve in multiple areas, especially on offense, Hair said.
“Being aggressive on offense, driving, we’ve got to improve in just about every area, really,” he said. “We’ve got to find a way to make shots. We’v got to find a way to take care of the ball and not turn the ball over. Turnovers are just killing us. They’ve been killing us all year.
“We’ve got to find a way to play defense and create some offense. We haven’t been doing that at a high enough level, either. So, that’s why we struggle to play as well as maybe our talent suggests that we can.”
Hair said his team has struggled to find a team chemistry on the court.
“The guys have got to learn how to play off of each other’s strengths,” he said. “And that’s something, right now, that we haven’t done. We’ve got guys that can shoot. We’ve got guys that can dribble. But we haven’t found a way to put it all together.”
In warmups before the Elkhart game, Teague had players who were knocking down three-pointers and jumpshots. They have players with the athleticism to drive to the basket. Hair said what the Lions show in practice is not translating into game conditions.
“Right now, we look better in practice than we do in the game,” Hair said. “Part of that is your opponent. But part of it also is the pressure you’re putting on yourself. The only thing I can think of is we’re putting too much pressure on ourselves. We’re not just playing the game of basketball. And maybe it’s just a confidence thing.”
The Lions played some tough teams during their non-district campaign and endured some big losses.
“We played an extremely tough schedule early,” Hair said. “Sometimes, when you don’t compete the way you want to, you can get down on yourself and not play the way you’re capable of playing. And I think that probably describes us right now.”
Teague stayed with Elkhart throughout much of the game.
The teams were tied 10-10 late in the second quarter when Elkhart scored five points and took a 15-10 halftime lead.
Early in the third quarter, the Lions pulled within two. Down 17-10, Kobe Lacey drove the left baseline for a hoop and then buried a three-pointer to get Teague within 17-15 just 53 seconds into the third quarter.
Midway through the period, Waylon Allison made a pair of free throws and Ty Abram scored a layup on a pass from Lacey to get the Lions within 26-20 with 3 minutes, 43 seconds left in the quarter.
However, Elkhart scored the next eight points and held Teague scoreless for more than three minutes en route to a 34-22 lead after three quarters. The visitors scored six of the first seven points in the fourth quarter to virtually wrap up the victory.
“We’re better than 27 points,” Hair said. “You hold the other team to 40, we should be scoring right there with them and have a chance to win. We didn’t have it tonight. And we’ve got to find a way.”
Hair said Elkhart just made more baskets than the Lions.
“Part of it is, they made shots at a more consistent rate,” he said. “It wasn’t like they just pulled away and it was over. They just slowly pulled away because they were making some shots. That’s what we’ve got to do. We’ve got to find a way to make some.”
Hair said when his team faces adversity in a game, there can be a snowball effect that leads to negative plays.
“We’ve just got to find a way to not take ourselves out, mentally,” he said. “It seems like when we struggle a little bit on offense, as the game goes along we just press and press and press. The next thing you know, we’re not doing what we’re trying to do, we’re not running the plays we’re trying to run, we’re not being aggressive, we’re turning the ball over. And then that affects how you play defense too, because now you’re not playing hard, you’re not getting loose balls. Guys have just got to find a way to gain some confidence and play a little bit tougher.”
Hair said turning around the season in district play is not only about eliminating physical errors, but also about being prepared, mentally.
“The biggest thing is, they’ve just got to believe,” Hair said. “That’s kind of my message to them. As coaches, we can’t go do it for them. We can show them the tools and show them the way. And the rest is up to them.”