Late last month, Fort Worth Trimble Tech head coach Wendell Ivory sat in the locker room of Thomas Coliseum and looked his players in the eyes.He wanted to assess how the team was after an 0-3 run in the prestigious Whataburger Tournament. I always work with my assistants to come up with games early in the season where we can work different roster strategies and minutes kids may play, Ivory said. We did that during the tournament and I needed to know whether the kids realized they fought hard and they had a tough district schedule coming up.So far, so good.The Bulldogs have rebounded and stand at 14-6 overall, 5-0 in District 7-4A. Moreover, Tech knocked off the final undefeated team in district with a 48-46 win at Aledo last Friday. Anytime you can go to a place like that, where theyve got probably a six- to eight-point advantage just from practicing in their gym, youve got to feel good about your team after that, Ivory said. Our kids stayed with their half-court game and didnt get frustrated.With a team and program built usually around up-tempo and transition basketball, Ivory said hes placed an emphasis on defense this season.And what that really means is that were focused on forcing turnovers and rebounding, he said. We dont produce a lot of steals because I dont want guys reaching. I want them playing defense the right way.Thats how the Bulldogs survived Aledos offense, which can produce six to seven passes per possession. That kind of play has freed 6-foot-7 forward Spencer Franklin to average 9.3 rebounds. He also averages 14.6 points per game.He leads the Bulldogs in scoring, but Ivory said its different players every night that step up to score. D.J. McMillan is averaging 10.3 points and Quayvon Parks 9.7 points per game to complement the offense.Big impactBirdville reserve point guard D.J. Draper grew two inches since last season.Unfortunately, that still left the junior guard at 5-foot-3, about seven to eight inches short of his average counterpart. Still, Birdville coach Jeff Fitch said Drapers success comes from not only being the ultimate gym rat, but shedding what might be considered a serious disadvantage to less workman-like players. Draper, who wears the No. 55 traditionally reserved for post players, scored 18 points in Birdvilles first District 6-4A loss last Saturday and frustrated just about every player on the floor for Dunbar.He never leaves the gym, Fitch said. He will always find something to work on.Draper, who Fitch said also ranks in the top 10 academically in his class, sat for almost all of the first quarter before Fitch brought on his point guard in a foul-induced substitution. It was the first time this season Draper had not started because of the height disadvantage. It was pretty clear right away he could handle himself just fine and it wasnt a question of whether he could provide the offense, Fitch said. He really showed me a lot, but Ive seen him play since he was in the fifth grade. D.J is so smart and he can adapt to any situation.What may be viewed as a negative might be one of hit greatest strengths.Several times Saturday, Draper gained separation by using leverage to keep his defender in place. If he was bigger, its likely hed draw more offensive fouls with that approach.Draper averages 6.7 points and 2.6 assists per game. The Dunbar game was a season-high in points for him and he scored 17 against Fossil Ridge. Fossil Ridge steadyThree players are averaging in double figures for the Panthers who are tied with two other teams for second place in District 4-5A. Fossil Ridges only loss thus far was by three points to rival Keller.Cameron Montgomery leads the team in scoring at 14.3 points per game and is second in rebounding at 6.7. The road doesnt get any easier this week as the Panthers (13-6, 4-1) face Richland and district unbeaten Justin Northwest. Chris Kouakou and Ryan Parker are right behind Montgomery at 12.9 and 11.8 points, respectively. Two teams strugglingWith games against Midlothian and Duncanville on the agenda this week, Mansfield Timberview sits 1-4 in District 7-5A play, needing some bounces to go its way. Three of Timberviews four losses have been by six points or less, including a 45-43 loss to Cedar Hill last Friday night. Mansfield also sits 1-4, having its only win 58-52 over Midlothian. The Tigers have a much bigger ladder to climb in contending for the final playoff spot. Timberview defeated Mansfield 56-42 last month. Micah Littlejohn leads Mansfield in scoring, averaging 17.4 points per game.The Colony fundraiserThe Colony basketball coach Cleve Ryan, other faculty and students have launched a fundraising campaign to support student Brian Bravo. The senior will graduate this year, just seven years after he was the only survivor in a car accident near Monterrey, Mexico.The accident claimed the lives of his mother, older sister and uncle. The fundraiser is an effort to support Bravos father in the continued care of his son post-graduation, including the purchase of a wheelchair-accessible van.To make a donation, call coach Ryan at 469-948-2586 or mail a check or money order to: Calvary Christian Center, Attn: Bravo4Brian, 5220 Blair Oaks Drive, The Colony, TX 75056.