Basketball

Staying cool under pressure

by: Andrew Coakley, Sports Editor

If coach Darrell Sears feels any pressure on him because his senior boys team are the defending champions for the Domino’s Pizza Tip Off Classic, then he’s masking that pressure well.

Sears may have been agitated in some of the decisions his players took on the court on Wednesday afternoon in their game against the Catholic High Crusaders, but coach Sears maintained his cool, sitting on the bench next to the bench players, watching the game until the final buzzer.

Perhaps coach Sears wasn’t all that worried because the senior boys team was having their way with the inexperienced Crusaders, beating them 44-22 to give the Jaguars a 2-1 record thus far in the Tip Off Classic.

It may have been an easy win for the Jaguars, but it was a tough game to watch for coach Sears, who is used to playing a certain kind of basketball.

“These guys are young and they still have a lot to learn...but they’re getting there,” coach?Sears said, following Thursday’s game.

“We had some deficiencies coming into this tournament, but we’re improving with each game, but we just have to get the guards to play with a little more control and we will do just fine.”

The Jaguars took early command of the game against the Crusaders on Wednesday afternoon, ending the first period 19-0. By half time, the Jaguars held on to a 16-point lead (26-10).

The Crusaders got on the board from the free throw line, which was followed by a big three- pointer, which seemed to spark the team’s offensive game.

In the third period, it took both teams over one minute to score, as their run-and-gun game resulted in missed baskets.

The Jaguars broke the basket dry spell with two from the free throw line.  

Even with a good lead, the Jaguars continued to press the ball and press the defense. 

Their hurried approach resulted in a five turnovers in the third period, three of which the Crusaders took advantage of converting for points.

But it was still not enough to diminish the lead which the Jaguars maintained. The Crusaders were only able to pick up seven points in the third period, while the Jaguars picked up 12 points.

It was a back and forth style of play in the fourth period, as the Crusaders forced some Jaguars’ turnovers, only this time, they did not convert on as many opportunities as they would have hoped.

Coach Sears knows that whether it’s spoken or not, pressure is on the Jaguars to successfully defend their Tip Off Classic Title.

But coach Sears is realistic and says that because his team took such a big blow with a lot of their former players graduating last season, they are presently in a rebuilding stage.

“Considering all of the players we lost last year, I’m actually pleased with this team and what they have accomplished thus far,” said Sears.

“Last year’s team is perhaps one of the best teams this program has ever seen, but the bottom line is we have to start all over again with these guys and so I know that we’re still in that building phase.”

The Jaguars lost a close game against Tabernacle Falcons on Tuesday, but it was a game that gave coach?Sears hope that they can still get to that point where they can be ranked among the top teams in the country.

For coach?Sears although the game ended in a loss for them, he still felt good about the game.

“It showed me that once we put in the work and stay focused, we can run with the best of them,” said coach?Sears.

“People were saying that Tabby would blow us out, but we proved that we can still hang with the best of them. You know that Tabernacle has three great players and a very good coach and we knew what we were going to be up against, but we are holding our own and making our own mark in this tournament.”

Coach?Sears admitted that it’s hard rebuilding a team, but added that he’s up to the task, as long as the kids are willing to listen and to learn.

“We’re building a tradition,” added Sears.


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