MBB: ALA Downs Coolidge – Three ( x2) Things We Learned
11 months ago Andrew Luberda 0
Last Tuesday’s 3A Central Region matchup between then No. 5-ranked Coolidge and No. 11 American Leadership Academy – Queen Creek featured the good and not-so-good of both teams. In the end, it was the Patriots, behind a strong second-half performance, who came away with the 69 – 59 victory.
“Coolidge is a tough-minded, scrappy team,” ALA head coach Ryan McCurdy told CountyLinePreps.com afterwards. “It has kids who play hard and don’t quit. We knew it was going to be a tough (game) on the road.”
“I was proud of the way we played,” he added. “We had some turnovers in the first half and, once again, we were outrebounded in the first half, despite being the taller team. It’s just a mindset, and we took care of that in the second half.”
The Bears were the better team for much of the first half, ending the opening quarter on a 7 – 2 run to take a 15 – 12 lead despite being outsized by the Patriots. Coolidge maintained the lead for much of the second quarter, in which the play on both sides turned sloppy at times, but the Patriots took a 26 – 25 advantage into the break.
ALA ended the third quarter on a 9 – 2 run to open a seven-point lead, 48 – 41.
Poor execution and shooting were the biggest contributors to the Bears’ second-half performance, especially in the fourth quarter.
Dropped first regional game to ALA. Always a tough team to play against. Lost sight of the game plan, missed way too many FT, and too many careless turnovers. Have to bounce back with a sense of urgency in our preparation the next two days to get it done on Friday #BearDown
— Chris Leman (@CoachLeman) January 10, 2018
“When we were executing the game plan in the first quarter, things were going well,” Coolidge head coach Chris Leman said. “We definitely got away from the game plan – got away from the defensive game plan, got away from the offensive game plan. (We) started settling for shots off one pass, settling for a lot of (three-pointers), and we missed 10 free throws.”
“We were one foul away from being in the bonus in the third quarter,” he continued. “But we only made it to the line twice in the fourth quarter. We stopped attacking, we stopped going to what worked for us, and we stopped defending. They had four or five second-chance opportunities that really hurt us down the stretch.”
Leman acknowledged the issues displayed in the loss are fixable.
“We know we can do it, there’s no doubt about it,” he said. “ALA did their job, but it’s more about us. We’re capable of beating them, we just beat ourselves.”
Points: Devon Brook – 18, Dylan Wallace – 11, Stone Smith – 10, Zach Anderson – 10.
Assists: Brooke – 4, Anthony Gonzales – 3, Bujon Boyd – 3, Stone Smith – 3, Anderson – 3.
Rebounds: Wallace – 15, Anderson – 6, Brooke – 5.
Points: Jovann Thompson – 18, Sheffield Jordan – 9, Manny Madrid – 8.
Assists: Madrid – 7, Thompson – 3.
Rebounds: Thompson – 8, Jordan – 7, Jordan Hinojos – 6, Madrid 5.
Three (x2) things we learned:
Take advantage – The Patriots will have a height advantage in every game they play this year. They need to use it for the entire game. Coolidge, which was undersized compared to ALA, had its way on the boards in the first half. The Patriots finally used their height in the second half. “That’s our game plan, to take advantage of our height,” McCurdy said. “We have guards who can post up other kids. We need to use that to our advantage and either get fouled or score the bucket.”
Bench Mob – An argument can be made that the Patriots bench was the difference in the game. Bujon Boyd and Jake Vurpillat, who scored seven points apiece, provided valuable minutes. “We have some kids come off the bench who can play effective basketball,” said McCurdy. “We have kids who can come in and give us some great minutes, which we need.”
A monster – Senior Dylan Wallace finished with a double-double – 11 points, 15 rebounds – and was the player the Bears struggled to contain the most. “When he has the mindset, he is relentless on the glass,” McCurdy said. “I don’t think there is anyone in 3A who can box him out. He’s a monster and he’s active. He was a difference-maker for us (last Tuesday).”
It’s not how you start, it’s how you finish – Except for the first quarter, when they closed with a 7 – 2 run, the Bears couldn’t finish quarters strong. They possessed the lead nearly the entire second quarter, only to squandered it the final minute before halftime. ALA finished the third quarter on a 9 – 2 run, which arguably was the beginning of the end for the Bears. “We had a problem finishing quarters,” Leman said. “We’re simply not closing out quarters and it has a lot to do with our shot selection.”
Shooters shoot – The Bears have guys that can fill it up – Jovann Thompson, Seth De La Rosa, Nick Harrison, and Manny Madrid are among them – but if they want to get to the postseason, they’re going to have to hit a higher percentage from the field and the free throw line. They were a measly 7-of-17 from the charity stripe, and their inability to shoot better from the field will allow defenses to drop down in the paint, take away the lane, and dare them to hit outside shots. “If their defense is back and set, and they’re able to use their length to their advantage, we struggle against that,” Leman said.
Nick the Quick – Freshman Nick Harrison stood out against the Patriots, displaying skills and knowledge not often seen from an underclassman at the varsity level. His coach says he’s just scratching the surface of the type of player he can develop into. He’s not lacking in one important area. “His confidence,” Leman said. “His confidence comes as a result of his preparation. He’s a basketball junkie. He works on his game seven days a week.”