Early learning for guards
Sunday, November 30, 2008
Central sophomore Zach Boerboom said his team knew that Hazelwood Central ran a quick full-court press defense and prepared for it this week in practice.
Still, the Tigers' offense had difficulty handling the basketball against the Hawks' constant pressure, turning the ball over 30 times, in Saturday's season opener.
"They had a great press," Boerboom said. "Their guards are quick and everything. That's one of the things we tried to work on this week was getting the press broken."
The Tigers had 20 more turnovers than Hazelwood Central and struggled with shooting at the beginning of the first and third quarters.
Central lost its season opener 75-52 in the first game of the day-long Pepsi Showcase at the Show Me Center.
Hazelwood Central (2-0) is ranked eighth in the St. Louis Post-Dispatch's preseason large school rankings. It plays in Class 5 District 6, which includes last winter's Class 5 runner-up McCluer North.
"They're a really skilled, athletic team," Boerboom said. "So it wasn't a really horrible job on our part."
Central coach Drew Church was pleased with the effort of his team, which includes only one returning starter, Boerboom.
He said playing Hazelwood Central was a terrific learning experience for his younger players, especially his guards, who had to bring the ball up the court.
"All the ball pressure and the press was great for our guards, who are inexperienced and need to learn how to play a little bit," Church said. "They kind of figured out how hard you've got to play. So this is great for us. Some of our guys played scared and didn't play to their potential, but that's all a learning experience."
Church added that his guards learned that they needed to slow down and make sure to take better care of the basketball.
"I know it's hard to say you're happy [with] 30 turnovers," Church said. "But they battled. They didn't quit. They talked on defense. They communicated."
Hazelwood Central's Bryce Foster poured in 18 points and Connell Crossland added 13. The Hawks had 10 different players score.
"Their whole team is real quick," Central junior guard Kevin Casasola said. "They have a lot of tall people. It's pretty hard to defend. ... We got to work on it, stay calm and attack."
Casasola came off the bench to lead Central with 12 points. Central's Josh Harris and Rick Russell each had 10 points.
Casasola's play was one bright spot for Central. The junior converted five field goals, including two 3-pointers.
"We expect him to be a good guard for us," Church said. "He's got a little fire. We're looking for some guards who can take care of the ball and get us into our offense. We didn't get into too much of our offense tonight."
The Tigers struggled at times to move the ball past half court, preventing them from setting up quality shots inside from Boerboom and Russell.
Boerboom had just seven points, all of which came in the third quarter after being shut down in a first half when Central had 14 turnovers.
"To be good this year, we're going to have to get it down to half court and throw inside to our big [players], and we weren't able to do that tonight," Church said. "That's just something we need to get better at."
Central converted just one of its first eight field-goal attempts and trailed 12-5 after the first quarter.
Hazelwood Central led 28-14 with 2 minutes, 53 seconds remaining before halftime. But the Tigers went on an 8-0 run to close the quarter.
Josh Harris had a strong second quarter. All 10 of his points came in that period.
"I do expect a lot from Josh, but again this is his first year playing varsity basketball," Church said. "He's going to be a lot better next game. He's going to mature."
Central struggled at the start of the third quarter. Hazelwood Central went on a 10-0 run in the first 1:59 to pull ahead 38-22.
"We talked about the first couple minutes of the second half were going to be key, and they were," Church said. "They came out ready to play and we kind of went back on our heels. But I saw a lot of positives. And I saw a lot of negatives. We've just got to try to fix the negatives."
Harris said he and the other guards must continue to become more aggressive, handle the ball better and try to find the right shots.
"It a slight transition," Harris said about moving up to varsity. "But we've been playing basketball for a while. We've just got to adjust to it and work hard every day."
@z_agate_no tab_no indnt_bld ld:Hazelwood Central (75) -- Connell Crossland 13, Curtis Churchman 7, Tim Hargrove 2, Sam Sebacher 4, Josh Richards 8, Chris Williams 2, Jordan Wilson 4, Bryce Foster 18, Donald Wells 5, Keith Davis 8. FG 25, FT 18-24, F 15. (3-pointers: Churchman 1, Foster 2, Wells 1)
Central (52) -- Blake Ozbun 6, Terrance Howard, 5, Andrew Williams 2, Josh Harris 10, Kevin Casasola 12, Rick Russell 10, Zach Boerboom 7. FG 18, FT 12-16, F 18. (3-pointers: Howard 1, Harris 1, Casasola 2)