They’re almost a foot apart in height. But 6-foot-8 Jonathan Bierman and 5-9 Kannon Jones see eye-to-eye when it comes to Arlington Seguin boys basketball.
The talented center-point guard tandem are working together to guide a senior-laden, yet somewhat inexperienced, Cougars squad. After some ups and downs early on, Seguin, a traditional power, looks to be rounding into form. The Cougars (11-5 overall) routed Joshua 77-28 in the team’s district opener Dec. 16. Now, the team’s preparing to play in the Fort Worth ISD Coca-Cola Classic before resuming 9-5A play in early January.
“At the beginning of the year, it was rough, getting to know each other, getting to know how we play,” Bierman said. “But as the season’s gone along, we’ve started to see a winning pattern.”
Coach Peter Abbot, the former Alvarado coach who is in his first year leading the Cougars, has seen both of his senior captains step up their level of play since the season began. “They’ve both improved,” Abbott said. “We’ve gotten tougher.”
A pass-first point guard, Jones has worked on knocking down his open shots, especially in the paint and in mid-range situations. “When they’re open, take them, but [Abbott] wants me to get my teammates involved,” Jones said of his role. “I see [the floor] better. It’s opened up.”
Bierman knew he needed to become quicker at running the floor and moving around on offense to fit Abbott’s fast-paced system. “Last year I was pretty big, so I still couldn’t get down the court very well,” Bierman said. “So coming into this year … I knew I had to get a little quicker than I was. [Now] I don’t feel like I hold the team back with my size.”
Far from holding the team back, Bierman’s bailing teammates out of tough spots. “It’s great. He’s someone you can pass it to when you’re in trouble at half court and just throw it up,” Jones said.
Against Joshua, Bierman got Seguin off to a fast start, pouring in the game’s first eight points. “Bierman’s gotten better in the paint,” Jones said. “He finishes better around the rim. He’s gotten way better at that. That’s what I’ve seen. You can throw it into him, and he can score.”
Abbott spreads the minutes out, where most of the roster plays significant roles. Not surprisingly, then, the scoring load is balanced among numerous players. But Jones leads the way, averaging more than 10 points per game. For all of his shooting prowess, scoring’s not even Jones’ best asset on offense.
“If you watch our games, Kannon is more of a pass-first point guard,” Bierman said. “He can dribble through the press easy. Outside [of basketball], he’s goofy and like a little kid, but on the court he’s very serious and takes care of business. You can always rely on Kannon.”
With two reliable leaders running the show, Seguin can count on being a dangerous team come playoff time. Seguin lost in triple overtime in the second round of the playoffs a season ago. Abbott sees potential for this Cougars team to go further in the postseason.
“We have the ability to compete for a state regional tournament, maybe even state if things go right, the ball bounces our way,” Abbott said.
One of the top girls basketball tournaments in Texas is next on the schedule for Bowie, Lamar and Martin as the teams enter the Mansfield Spring Creek Barbeque Invitational on Wednesday.
The annual holiday event includes 32 teams, including state-ranked programs from Mansfield Timberview, Canyon, Amarillo and Pflugerville along with teams from across the Metroplex and elsewhere.
Martin kicks things off at 9:45 a.m. Wednesday at Timberview, facing Little Elm. Bowie faces Springdale Har-Ber (Ark.) at 1:15 p.m. at Legacy High School. Lamar plays at the same time at Summit High School, squaring off with Amarillo Tascosa.
Seguin will play in the Caprock Classic tournament Thursday-Saturday. Arlington is in the Prosper Tournament Wednesday and Thursday. Sam Houston has a weekend tournament at Keller Central High School.
Sam Houston begins competition at the Moritz tournament in Aledo at noon Tuesday, facing Keller Timber Creek, and Arlington begins play at 1:30 p.m. against Grace Christian. Martin is in the Whataburger Tournament in Haltom City, facing Round Rock McNeil at 10 a.m. Wednesday.
Bowie, Seguin and Lamar are in the Fort Worth ISD Coca-Cola Classic, with Bowie facing Denton at 9:30 a.m. Thursday, Seguin squaring off with Fort Worth Wyatt at 11 a.m. and Lamar taking on Killeen Ellison at 5 p.m. Games are at the Wilkerson-Greines Activity Center in Fort Worth.
Stephen English: firstname.lastname@example.org, @sbenglish74