After massive turnover from last season’s district champion squad, nobody really knew what to expect from the 2013-2014 Seguin boys basketball team. Not even head coach Bobby Thigpen.
“We’re so young. We lost 11 guys from last year’s team, we only had three returners and none of them with any real game experience,” Thigpen said last Thursday. “So we had no idea how they would respond, you know?”
The response has been a 5-0 start to District 15-4A competition heading into Tuesday’s game against Mansfield Lake Ridge, which was played after the press deadline. That’s in a district that includes the likes of Star-Telegram No. 1-ranked Mansfield Summit, along with a tough Lancaster squad and the upstart Lake Ridge.
The Cougars’ lack of experience does show at times. Last Friday at Mansfield Legacy, Seguin was outscored in the first, third and fourth quarters. A lopsided 15-5 second quarter was the difference-maker in the 43-41 victory for the away team. Legacy nearly forced overtime with a last-second, hold-your-breath shot that rolled off the rim.
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Guard and team captain Devin Roby-Davis, one of only three seniors on the team, enjoyed every second of it, though.
“I love these games. Even if it’s not my (home) crowd, I love the intensity,” said Roby-Davis, who led the scoring with 16 points.
Intensity is a good word to describe the Cougars’ style. With only a few players topping six feet, the team battles for rebounds, darts to collect turnovers and runs an in-your-face defensive press for most of the game.
“Well, the coaches always tell us, ‘Once the game starts, no more joking,’” said Niko Boleware, another senior and team captain, who can either put up double-digit points or help his teammates score. “Practice, too; once you’ve stepped between the lines, it’s serious. I just feel like that whenever we come into the game, that just gets the momentum going, gets us playing hard.”
Roby-Davis said the Cougars have to be more aggressive than their opponents in order to win.
“We just know that we’ve got to go hard every play,” he said after the Legacy game. “We do have a young team, we don’t have anybody big inside, so we just have to play hard and push the ball.“
Thigpen said another of Seguin’s strengths is the players’ willingness to put wins before personal goals.
“They’ve done a real good job playing team basketball and different nights, it’s a different leading scorer,” he said.
“Me and my assistants, we try to keep them grounded as best we can, keep them humble, you know? That’s been the whole deal, is keeping them humble and keeping them motivated, just always keeping in their minds that hey – we had no respect before and we’ve got to just keep playing, playing, playing with that chip on your shoulder.”
Boleware carries that chip with relish.
“I feel like outsiders didn’t expect [the 5-0 start], but we did,” he said. “We worked for this. We came in, in the preseason and in practice, just working hard.”
Thigpen said Boleware and Roby-Davis have been tasked with carrying the team’s coaching onto the court.
Neither of the seniors seems to mind his leadership role one bit, despite the fact that Roby-Davis was on junior varsity last season and Boleware had limited playing time on varsity.
“It was a big eye-opener, because I didn’t get that much experience last year,” Roby-Davis said. “This year I’m liking it, I’m liking the atmosphere.”
Boleware couldn’t wait for the challenge of helping lead his team.
“I was ready for it,” he said. “Last year — I loved my team, but I was ready for this year, for me and Devin to come in and do some damage that people didn’t expect.”
But Boleware gives plenty of credit to the team as a whole, which also includes standout sophomore Josh Parrish, who had 15 points against Legacy.
“I think we have a pretty long, deep rotation,” Boleware said. “I feel like everybody can do different things, everybody comes in and knows their role, and that’s why we’re a winner.”
He’s also uncompromising in his expectation of what the Cougars can achieve this year.
“We want to win state,” he said, smiling.